Tag Archives: low calorie pasta

Penne and Italian Turkey Sausage

8 Feb

This was a quick, easy fix in my Instantpot tonight, but it would be super easy on the stovetop as well.  I’ll leave you directions for both.  This is a great quick and easy meal for a busy  night when you need something low in calories.  The trick is the penne.  I’ve found a low calorie penne (150 cal per 2 oz) at my local grocery store and it comes out tender and delicious just like the regular kind.  Keep in mind that my penne comes in a 12 oz box, and many of the regular types come in a 16 oz box, so you’ll have to adjust the water (if you use instant pot) and calories accordingly if you use the larger box.


  • 3 butterball sweet Italian turkey sausage links, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 12 oz of reduced calorie penne
  • 1 container of pre sliced mushrooms
  • 1 jar of prego light smart pasta sauce (32 oz) or mommy’s on a diet homemade marinara
  • 32 oz of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup white wine* (opt) or water
  • shredded parm and crushed red peppers for garnish (opt)

*white wine not included in calorie count



  1. Fill a large pot with about 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil.  Add penne and cook according to package directions.
  2. While water is boiling, warm 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet.  Cook turkey sausage slices in the skillet until they are browned on the outside and cooked through.
  3. Use about 1/2 cup of water or white wine (opt) to deglaze the pan, meaning, pour the liquid in and use a spoon to scrape all the bits off the bottom so nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add pasta sauce, mushrooms, salt, garlic, and oregano to pan.  cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally while you continue working on pasta.
  5. Once pasta has finished cooking, drain it well.  Once mushrooms have cooked down, add your pasta to the large skillet and toss sauce and pasta together.


  1. heat instant pot on sautee function.  Add oil, and then sausages to cook.
  2. Cook sausages in oil just until they are browned on outside.
  3. Literally add all other ingredients in, starting with sauce, then mushrooms, then seasonings, then water.  Don’t stir it up.
  4. Once everything else is in the pot, add pasta.  Poke all pasta down inside the water and make sure no pasta is exposed (it won’t cook if it’s exposed).
  5. Set your Instantpot to manual for 6 minutes.  Quick release as soon as timer goes off.
  6. If there is too much liquid when it’s done, either stir it and then replace cover and leave it sitting covered in the pot for about 5 minutes: or you can stir it up and heat on sautee, adjusting the heat to “less” and stir continuously until sauce thickens.

Makes 5 servings= 378 calories per serving

Pasta Carbonara

22 Apr

So, I was super excited about this dish.  Not even because Pasta Carbonara is delicious, but because, it’s a little more complicated, as far as cooking goes.  If you don’t do this just right you’ll end up with spaghetti and scrambled eggs, so, listen up and read the directions carefully 🙂  I hope you guys enjoy this as much as we did. Be careful about the bacon you buy. you should get a package that’s no more than 70 calories for 2 slices (my favorite is 50 cals).


  • 4 Slices of Center cut bacon
  • 4 TBSP finely chopped onion
  • 12 oz of pasta (i used fettuccini, but spaghetti works too)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup 1% milk
  • 2/3 Cup Shredded parmesan and Romano cheeses (i used a mix of Parm/romano/asiago)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 12 oz Boneless, skinless chicken
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (for chicken)


  1. Season chicken, and get it on the grill.  When it’s done grilling, pull it off and set it aside for now.
  2. Cut bacon slices into little pieces using kitchen scissors, about 1/4 inch square.
  3. In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium high heat until it’s crispy.
  4. Start a pot of boiling water for your pasta, and once it boils, toss the pasta in to cook.
  5. While Bacon is cooking, mix the following items in a large bowl:  Eggs, Milk, Salt, Pepper, cheese.  Whisk until everything is smooth and well incorporated. You need to do this while the bacon is cooking.  The egg mixture needs to be ready to go when the pasta finishes cooking.  You don’t want to let the pasta sit.
  6. When bacon is finished cooking, remove bacon bits and set aside.  Leave grease in pan and use it to sautee the onions until soft, then set the pan, with onions and grease, to the side.
  7. When pasta has finished cooking, remove 1/3 cup of the water before draining.
  8. Very slowly poor the pasta water into the egg mixture, while whisking constantly.  If you’re pouring the water too fast, or not stirring you may end up cooking the egg, which you don’t want yet.
  9. Once Pasta water and egg mixture are well combined, drain your pasta.  Don’t let it sit and dry out or cool down. It’s alright if you don’t get all the liquid out entirely.
  10. Put the pasta into the bowl and mix with egg mixture.  You need to be stirring constantly.
  11. Pour egg and noodle mixture into the pan with bacon grease and onions.  Stir over low heat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce should begin to thicken.
  12. Once sauce has reached a good consistency (silky and smooth), mix in bacon and divide evenly into 4 plates or bowls.
  13. Slice chicken and divide among dishes.

Garnish with crushed red pepper or fresh parsley if desired.

Editors note: Seriously. don’t stop stirring, and don’t turn the heat up too high once you get everything in the pan! You’ll end up with scrambled eggs, which is not what we’re going for here 🙂

Makes 4 servings= 550 Calories per serving

Approximately 14 weight watchers points plus per serving

Cheesy Beefaroni Bake

5 Aug


  • 1 (8-ounce) package small elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded 2% reduced-fat cheddar cheese

For Sauce:

  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded 2% reduced-fat cheddar cheese



1. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain pasta, and then lightly coat pasta with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray, and sautee onion, garlic, and ground beef. Cook until beef is cooked through and onions become semi-transparent.

3. Add tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates.

4. Add pasta to beef mixture in pan, stirring to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 9X9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

5. In a small/medium sauce pan, mix milk, flour, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk ingredients together over medium heat, until well blended. Stir constantly with a wisk until mixture thickens.

6. Once mixture has begun to thicken, add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour cheese mixture evenly over the top of the pasta mixture, And stir it all around a little. Top evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This “let it sit” part is important. This stuff is 1. molten-lava hot when it comes out of the oven, and 2. in need of some room-temp thickening. So, hold your horses here and give it 5 minutes 🙂 Enjoy.

Makes 6 Servings= 386 calories
Apps 10 weight watchers points plus



Penne Chicken Florentine

22 May

I love Italian food, but I typically lean more toward tomato-based sauces, which are sort of a weakness of mine. My kids and husband love a creamier sauce though, and I love a good reason to feed my kids spinach… so here goes.
  • 12 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1/2 box frozen spinach
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 can fat chicken broth
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 8oz. pasta (Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne Rigatta)



Cut Chicken breast into cubes, about 1 inch by 1 inch. Salt and pepper chicken to taste.

1. In a medium size pan, cook pasta al dente while preparing remaining ingredients. When it’s done, drain it and set it to the side until needed.

2. Spray a large skillet with non-stick spray, and saute chicken pieces until done through. Remove from skillet and set aside.

3. Mix Ricotta, Spinach, and parmesan cheese until all ingredients are well mixed.

4. In the skillet you used for the chicken, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Carefully add flour to the oil, and wisk together for 30 seconds or so to form a “roux” for your sauce.

5. Add chicken broth to your roux, and wisk together until sauce begins to thicken. About 2 or 3 minutes.

6. Stir in nutmeg, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and oregano and simmer sauce for about 2 minutes.

7. Remove sauce from heat, and gently fold in ricotta mixture, chicken, and pasta.

8. Pour pasta into a 9×13 pan (sprayed with nonstick spray) and cover with foil.

9. I just cooked this all together in the skillet until everything was hot and the sauce was thickened. For a “prettier” presentation, you could also Bake on 375 for 30 minutes.


Editors Note: I really liked this with crushed red pepper on top. yum.


Makes 4 Servings= 440 Calories per serving

Approximately 12 weight watchers points plus per serving



Lasagna Roll Ups

21 Nov

I’ve seen some version of this recipe on many different sites. I love to make lasagna, but I don’t do it often, so I thought this version might shave some time off the very time consuming process of making a full lasagna. It did, and it’s a healthy, delicious version. Freezes well too. Great leftovers.

– 8 lasagna noodles
– 1 jar of Prego “light smart” traditional sauce
(or click here to make my easy, homemade marinara)
– 16 oz of low fat ricotta cheese
– 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
– 1 box of frozen spinach
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 cup shredded, reduced fat mozzarella cheese


1. Boil noodles in salted water until soft and flexible.

2. While noodles cook: Place frozen spinach in a colander and run under hot water until thawed. Use a paper towel to press all water out of the spinach (by smooshing it into the bottom of the colander). It’s important that you remove as much liquid as possible from the spinach.

3. In a medium sized bowl, Mix ricotta, parmesan, spinach, egg, garlic, and oregano together.

4. Open Spaghetti sauce and pour about 1/4 of the jar into the bottom of a baking pan, coated in non stick spray.

5. Place a row of paper towels flat on the counter, long enough to accommodate all your noodles, and about 3 or 4 towels tall. Remove noodles and lie them each flat on the paper towel. Use additional paper towel to pat excess water from the top of the noodles. It’s important that the noodles are dry.

6. Spread Ricotta mixture evenly across each noodle (a little less than 1/3 cup per noodle) using all of the mix.

7. Roll each noodle up, and place it seam down in the pan.

8. Cover all rolls with remaining sauce and top with mozzarella cheese.

9. Cover pan with foil and bake on 400 for 25 min.

10. Remove foil and continue baking 5-10 min longer (until cheese reaches desired color and texture).

Makes 4 Servings= 460 Calories per serving


Chicken Marsala

16 Sep

-4 (4 0z) chicken cutlets
-1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
– 2 tablespoons flour (+ 1 tbsp. flour separated, 3 tbsp. total)
– 1 tsp Italian seasoning
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp black pepper
– salt (to taste)
– 2 cups raw, sliced mushrooms
– 1/2 can of 98% ff chicken broth
– 1/2 cup marsala wine
– 2 tbsp. water


1. use a meat mallot to pound out each chicken breast, into about 1/4 inch thick slices.

2. Sprinkle Salt onto chicken breasts.

3. Mix flour, Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper together. Sprinkle mixture evenly over both sides of all 4 breasts.

4. Preheat oven to 350.

5. Heat EVOO in a large skillet to med-high temp (6-7 on my stove)

6. Place chicken breasts into oil and cook until golden brown crust forms on both sides.

7. Remove chicken and place in an oven safe dish. Keep in 350 degree oven to keep chicken warm.

8. Slowly pour wine and broth into skillet, and use a spatula to scrape drippings off pan, into broth.

9. Add mushrooms, and cook until about 1/2 of liquid has cooked off.

10. in a small cup, mix remaining 1 tbsp. flour with 1 tbps water. Stir to make a thick paste with no significant lumps. Add additional 1 tbsp. of water and mix until smooth. This makes a “slurry”.

11. Slowly add “slurry” mixture to broth and cooked mushrooms, stirring to incorporate.

12. Keep stirring until sauce reaches desired consistency.

13. Remove chicken breasts and place on a plate, with 1/4 of sauce mixture.

Make 4 generous servings= 235 Calories per serving.


Cajun Chicken Pasta

23 Jul

I have to say, I have had this recipe in my “to make” list for a LONG time… like, a few years. For some reason, I never made it. I guess I was skeptical of the idea of making alfredo sauce for some reason. Tonight, I’m SO glad I made this. It’s a delicious alternative to one of the most prohibitive pasta dishes. I hope you enjoy as much as I did 🙂


-1 lb chicken breast (I used tenders this time)
– Cajun Seasoning (I used Old Bay)
– 1 box (8 oz) whole wheat fetuccini or linguini
– steamed broccoli (I made 1/2 a bag from the produce section)
– Sautéed peppers, onion (I made red, and yellow peppers, and purple onion)

Sauce Ingredients:

– 6 wedges laughing cow cheese- original swiss, lite
– 1 cup 1% milk
– 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

– 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
– 1 tsp garlic
– 1/2 tsp salt


1. Season chicken with the desired amount of blackening seasoning (I was generous, I like spicy)

2. Preheat grill or oven for chicken

3. Sautee veggies on stovetop.

4. Start a pan of boiling water for pasta.

5. Mix all ingredients for sauce together in a small sauce pan, and heat on low, stirring often. Cook sauce until all ingredients are blended, melted, and somewhat thickened. About 20 min.

6. In the meantime, when water begins to boil, break noodles in half, and cook until done to your preference.

7. While noodles, veggies, and sauce continue to cook, grill or broil the chicken until done.

8. Steam Broccoli toward end of cooking process.

9. When everything is done, pour drained noodles into large pan or bowl, and pour sauce over noodles. Add Peppers and onions here if you like. Stir all these items together.

10. Portion out into 4 equal portions, and top with sliced chicken. Add broccoli on top, or as a side.

4 Servings= 575 Calories per serving