Spaghetti with Ragu – 7 Smart Points

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This year for New Year’s day dinner, my in-laws had an Italian theme. One of the recipes we ended up with was a lasagna made with a homemade Ragu. I fell in love with it. The flavor of the Ragu was so delicious. It was rich, but not overpowering and wasn’t tomato based. Most of my pasta sauces are tomato or cream based, so this one was a breath of fresh air. I got the recipe and have made it several times since then. It makes a lot, so I tend to freeze part of it or I end up with too much sauce to use before it went bad. The only downside of this recipe for me, is that you need to simmer it for a couple of hours. I don’t care for wine, so I simmered mine for at least 2 hours to make sure no wine flavor remained (don’t worry, all the alcohol has burned off by then). I’ve also found that the wine adds a depth to the flavor that the Ragu is really lacking without the wine. So, just plan ahead and make this Ragu on Saturday or Sunday (or any day you have the time to do the prep) and then store it until you use it later in the week. If you can’t find the pancetta, just use bacon as a substitute. This is perfect for spaghetti (or any other kind of pasta), or you can use it as your sauce for a lasagna. Any leftovers you won’t use within a week, just put it in a bag and freeze it for the next time. It’s rich, but not overpowering, and incredibly delicious. It’s my all-time favorite pasta sauce, and I love that I get to toss the veggies in the food processor to make the prep really easy. [Read more…]

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BBQ Beef – 9 Smart Points

BBQ Beef

Since last weekend was a 3 day weekend with Memorial day, my in-laws came down for the weekend. We had a couple of projects to work on while they were here (the guys had a couple of projects, I was just hoping to get out of as much work as possible), so it worked perfectly. I like to have everything planned out and everything I possibly can prepped before a weekend like that. It makes life so much easier and less stressful. I also love food and cooking, so it was a perfect opportunity to take advantage of 2 extra mouths and make some delicious food! I had a beef roast (just a regular chuck roast) that desperately needed to get out of the freezer and used, so I decided to do BBQ beef. I wanted to do it in the crockpot, since it’s easy and turns out really delicious meat. I also wanted to do a Carolina inspired BBQ sauce. Since some of our close friends are from the Carolinas (he’s originally from the North and her from the South), they’ve introduced us to some really delicious BBQ. This sauce is just perfect. It’s a combination of the traditional ketchup based sauces that I’m used to (being from the North), but it’s got the tangy apple cider vinegar that really gives the sauce a robust flavor. It’s not as sharp as distilled white vinegar and is almost a little sweet. I skipped the hot sauce (Since none of us like it really hot), but added it here so that you can adjust it to your taste. I love this BBQ beef, it’s definitely going to be a great recipe for the summer. I don’t have to use the oven and it goes so well with potato salad, coleslaw, veggie trays or any other summer sides I want to serve it with. [Read more…]

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IKEA Copycat Swedish Meatballs Recipe – 9 Smart Points

IKEA Copycat Swedish Meatballs

I don’t about you folks, but when I go to IKEA, I can’t wait to get down to their cafeteria and wrap my tastebuds around some of their famous Swedish meatballs! They are just soooooo good! Since I can’t realistically make a trip to IKEA every time I want their meatballs, I got to work making a healthier IKEA Copycat Swedish Meatballs Recipe. It’s actually a pretty easy recipe to make, and these meatballs turned out just as good, if not, BETTER than IKEA’s. Now, I just need to create a lighter version of their delicious Lingonberry sauce to go with it, and I’m set! At 9 Smart Points for 6 meatballs and sauce, this delicious dish makes a perfect Weight Watchers substitute for the original version. If you love IKEA’s Swedish Meatballs as much as I do, this copycat version is a must try!

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Zucchini Lasagna – 8 Smart Points

Zucchini Lasagna

Who doesn’t love lasagna? It’s a favorite meal of mine, and one that I can easily make gluten free (just use gluten free noodles). It’s a great meal to stick in the freezer when I know I’m going to be out of town, so that my husband can just stick it in the oven after work. I thought I’d give our traditional lasagna recipe a low-carb makeover. Zucchini works so well as noodles in other traditional pasta dishes, so why not lasagna? It turns out this is delicious. I’m pretty picky about how I like my zucchini (especially cooked), but this was delicious. It was tender, but not overpowering with the rest of the delicious sauce. Give this one a try for one of your next family meals. It’ll be a definite hit!
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Crockpot Beef Stew – 7 Points +

Crockpot Beef Stew

I feel a like Wendy, I’ve had all of the turkey I can handle for a little while. It’s why tacos (beef tacos) are on the menu this week, along with this delicious beef stew. I love to cook stews and soups in the crock pot. Not only is it easy, but it’s a guaranteed way to make sure that I don’t burn it to the bottom of the pot – like I do with just about everything. The other great thing about crockpots is that you can take just about any meat and make it deliciously tender in the crockpot. This stew is great. You can chop everything up and stick it in the crockpot the night before. Store the crockpot (covered) in the fridge for the night and then in the morning, all you have to do is put the pot into the crockpot base and turn it on. It’s a great one pot meal, with very few prep dishes. But, if you’re looking for a side dish, serve it with a fruit salad or relish tray of veggies to keep those points down. You can also add peas, green beans or any other vegetable you like to have in your stews. This stew is savory, rich and delicious – perfect for a simple and easy meal that warms you up on a cold winter day.
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Salisbury Steak – 6 Points +

Salisbury Steak

Sometimes it’s really nice to just pull out an old favorite. You know it’s going to be delicious every time and you know that it’s simple and everyone likes it. For my family, one of those recipes is Salisbury steak. You can use the minute steak for it, or tenderized round steak, but I usually just use hamburger. It’s easy and I’ve always got it on hand. Make up your patties and fry them in a skillet, then make up a beef gravy with onions (and mushrooms if you’re so inclined) to top the patties. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes, corn and green beans and you’ve got a simple, delicious and well-loved meal ready to go in no time.
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Beef Tacos – 9 Points +

Beef Tacos

I love using the crockpot for meats and soups. It’s a great way to cook things without my having to attend to them every second. The meat that is cooked in the crockpot is tender, moist and delicious. Crockpots are my favorite way to cook up a chicken that I’m going to debone and then chop up and freeze. This fabulous beef taco recipe is another one that’s perfect in the crock pot. Sure, you can simmer it on the stove in the sauce for about 2 hours until it’s tender, but it’s so much easier to just stick it in the crockpot, turn it on and walk away. The meat turns out delicious and tender every time. Once you’re ready to eat, serve these with your favorite toppings. I love to pile on the veggies (especially since they’re zero points plus) and a dab of sour cream and cheese.

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One Pan Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe – 9 Points +

One Pan Cheesy Chili Mac

Have I mentioned before how much I adore one pan meals? With 2 young kids, 3 cats, and a husband who acts like a teenager, they just make my life SO much easier. This One Pan Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe was a HUGE hit and I’m really excited to share it. I used extra lean ground beef in this, but you could easily substitute ground chicken or turkey if you prefer. The tender, perfectly seasoned meat is cooked in one skillet along with whole wheat macaroni noodles, and then it’s all topped with gooey, melty Mexican cheese. Try this recipe, and I’d be surprised if your family didn’t love it as much as mine.

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Orange Beef Recipe – 10 Points +

Orange Beef

Healthy Chinese fast food recipes are always popular in my house. The kids love them, the husband loves them, and I love them. So, I’m often experimenting with making lighter and healthier versions of our restaurant favorites. This Orange Beef recipe is a great one to try! The sauce is rich, fresh and flavorful, yet still very light. If I’m making it for just me and my husband, I’ll add in some crushed red pepper flakes to give it a spicy kick. It also works nicely with some bell pepper strips and or zucchini chunks – which is a great way to bulk it up some more, too. Served over fresh steamed brown rice, this is one seriously satisfying meal.

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Beef Wellington – 9 Points +

Beef Wellington

Sometimes, you just need to splurge. Beef Wellington is one of my splurge meals. Beef Wellington is a beautiful dish to make. It’s actually really simple to make, and it’s so elegant and incredibly delicious. Searing the beef tenderloin seals in all of the juices, keeping the tenderloin juicy. I like to cook mine until it’s just a little pink in the middle, but it’s easy to adjust that for individual taste. If you have someone that likes theirs very well done (or very rare), you can just make individual Wellingtons by slicing the tenderloin before you seal it in the pastry. Serving this with a fresh salad and steamed asparagus seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice makes an elegant and beautiful meal that’s perfect for a splurge night.

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Cranberry Meatballs – 6 Points +

Cranberry Meatballs

These meatballs are definitely a family favorite. It might seem a little strange with the combination of cranberry and sauerkraut, but trust me, it’s a perfect combination once you get it cooked together. If you don’t care for sauerkraut, you can make this with just plain cabbage instead. I like to mix turkey and ground beef so my meatballs still have enough fat to stay together but they’re a little less greasy that way. I also have made the meatballs and sauce separately. I like to bake my meatballs on a rack so they’re able to drip the fat down into the pan and don’t sit in it. I then just add the sauce and reheat the meatballs before serving. The sweet cranberries with the savory meat is a wonderful combination. I added a wild rice pilaf with vegetables and a simple tossed salad with mine. Delicious!
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Slow Cooker Beef Tips – 9 Points +

Slow cooker crock pots are wonderful kitchen tools. They make easy work of dinner, and the result is a delicious meal. Beef tips from sirloin steak are one of the meats that are perfect in the crockpot. This meal takes very little prep, and you end up with tender beef tips at the end of the day. This succulent beef and mushroom meal is served over traditional egg noodles.

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