Thursday, January 29, 2009

Slacking...

Sorry for the lack of posts this week! I challenged myself to not go to the store this week and instead to try to make a dent in our overflowing pantry, fridge, and freezer. The result of that has been some creative and some not-so-creative dishes that all pretty much fall short of blog-worthy. Seriously, plain ol' spaghetti is on the menu for tonight...nothing exciting.

It has been somewhat shocking to see just how long we could live off the food we've accumulated in the house. I feel like we could go at least a whole additional week without having to hit up the Publix. Of course we would be eating grilled cheese and tomato soup but we are in no way above that (in fact, it's one of our favorite meals!). Just another reminder of how blessed we are!

So hopefully I'll have some fun recipes to share next week when we recommit to eating better. That's on hold for now as we get ready for the Superbowl and the feeding frenzy that comes with it!

GO STEELERS!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Baked Mac & Cheese

I love good macaroni and cheese (remember this?). Maybe it all started back in the college days of Easy Mac...or even before that when we would go to Picadilly Cafeteria (can you believe they have a website?!) with the grandparents and I'd always opt for macaroni as one of my side "veggies." Or maybe it was the fellowship dinners at church growing up (man, those ladies could make some macaroni). However it started, I usually find myself compelled to try out new macaroni and cheese recipes when they cross my path.

This one was posted on weightwatchers.com not too long ago, and I had a chance to try it out last week. Very tasty mac n cheese with a satisfying breadcrumb topping that makes it reminiscent of the good cafeteria style stuff. You can even afford to overindulge a bit since it isn't even bad for you!


12 oz uncooked macaroni, elbow-type
1/2 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
12 oz fat-free evaporated milk
8 oz low-fat cheddar or colby cheese, shredded (I used a colby and monterey jack blend)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp dried bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions without added fat or salt; drain and transfer to a large bowl. While pasta is still hot, stir in sour cream; set aside.

3. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear just around the edges (known as scalding). Reduce heat to low, add cheese and simmer until cheese melts, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and stir in mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

4. Add cheese mixture to pasta; mix well. Transfer to a 3-quart casserole dish.

5. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over pasta.

6. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Yields about 1 cup per serving at 5 pts per serving.

Pay no attention to that oven "fried" chicken...it was a bust.

And since it's been a while since I posted about our favorite furry friend who is doing just fabulously on his brand new hip, here's a pic of him from this weekend after a day at the doggie spa. The groomer was going for Steelers colors with the yellow and black bandana.

And one final picture that clearly shows his annoyance over my puparazzi-type antics...can't help it, he's just too cute!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hungry Girl Hotcakes

I'm obsessed with the Hungry Girl website these days. I especially love when she takes some of my favorite fast food type meals and makes her own leaner version. (If that appeals to you, go to her site and sign up for her emails...she featured a swap yesterday for the Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme...which one of my fabulously witty friends cleverly named the "Fat Frisbee" back when they first came out...so gross if you stop and think about what you're eating...so just don't think...or make Hungry Girl's better-for-you version!)


Last week I found a swap she did for IHOP's chocolate chip pancakes and tried it out this past Monday morning since we were both home from work. I like her simple recipes because once you make a few you'll find you have ingredients on hand to make almost everything in her cookbook/on her site. These pancakes did not disappoint and were the perfect breakfast to savor a Monday morning when we could actually sleep in!



Just 4 pts for 2 pancakes (maybe a tad more if you go a little heavier on the sugar free maple syrup and add some sugar free chocolate syrup drizzles!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Turkey Burgers Revisited

I've previously posted about the world's best turkey burger and still maintain that particular version is the best ever. But even though the world's best turkey burger is incredibly tasty...it still isn't entirely diet friendly between the oil and herb marinade and Parmesan slices. Looking a head to a weekend filled with out of town guests, football (GO STEELERS!) and a trip to the Brazilian steakhouse, we needed something light.

So I threw together this Italian Turkey Burger recipe last night. Very, very simple and quick and definitely does have a flavor reminiscent of Italian sausage as the recipe claims. Not as good as the turkey burger mentioned above...but still a very good option. My husband says he would actually eat the original turkey burger 9 times out of 10 over a real burger...the Italian turkey burger didn't quite receive such a glowing review. But if you're really watching what you're eating and still are craving that burger (or Italian sausage), this is a keeper! I do think the grilled onion rings from the original recipe would be fantastic on top of these burgers too.

1 spray(s) cooking spray
1 pound(s) lean ground turkey
1/3 cup(s) onion(s), chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
4 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
2 small tomato(es), ripe, yellow and/or red, thinly sliced
1 cup(s) basil, fresh, leaves, torn or thinly shredded
4 item(s) reduced-calorie hamburger roll(s)

1. Coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray; preheat to medium-high.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, onion, garlic, fennel seed, salt and pepper; form into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Coat burgers and inside of rolls with cooking spray.

3. Grill burgers for 5 minutes; flip burgers and add rolls to grill. Grill open-face rolls until lightly charred, about 1 to 2 minutes; remove to serving plates. Grill burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes more. (it took us quite a bit longer than 10 minutes until they were done)

4. To serve, top grilled rolls with tomato slices and burgers; garnish with basil. Yields 1 burger per serving at 5 points per serving. (I didn't have fresh basil on hand but it would definitely be tasty on these burgers)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stir(fry) it up!

Here's a quick, tasty, and good-for-you dinner that just requires a few ingredients! I liked it even better for lunch the next day with a little bit of soy sauce.

Stirfried Chicken with Red Peppers, Broccoli and Cashews


2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp sesame oil, divided
1 1/2 tbsp ginger root, finely chopped
3 small garlic clove(s), finely chopped
1 pound(s) chicken breast, uncooked, boneless, skinless, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large sweet red pepper(s), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cup(s) broccoli, florets
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
20 item(s) Cashews, roasted, unsalted, roughly chopped

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat (be sure to use some cooking spray too to make sure you don't have to use a lot of elbow grease to clean your pan when you're all done).

2. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, ginger and garlic; cook 15 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until starting to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes; remove to a plate.

3. Add remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil, pepper and broccoli to same skillet; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add chicken back to skillet, pour in soy sauce and cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes more; toss with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil. Sprinkle on cashews and serve. Yields about 1 3/4 cup per serving for 5 points per serving.


**In other news, Deacon had his last xrays last Wednesday and is perfectly healed and recovered from his TPO! And what's even better is that his other hip looked as close to normal as possible according to the vet (hip dysplasia is almost always bilateral affecting both hips). So we couldn't be happier with the results of the surgery! Deacon is enjoying some off-leash time in the backyard and reminding us of exactly how quick he is...especially when he's got something he isn't supposed to!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Easy Roasted Pork Tenderloin

So we just passed the 1 week mark of 2009...how are those New Year's resolutions coming? I've made it to the gym one whole time which is something, right? I'm telling myself it's ok though because we've been eating healthier and lighter and that's pretty much the same thing. Don't burst my bubble.

Here's another fabulous WW recipe I found that turned out great! Good enough for company even!


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

1 spray(s) cooking spray
2 tsp dried thyme, or 2 Tbsp freshly chopped thyme
2 tsp dried oregano, or 2 Tbsp freshly chopped oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp olive oil
2 pound(s) lean pork tenderloin
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Rub oil all over pork. Sprinkle thyme mixture all over pork and transfer to prepared pan.

4. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of pork reads 160ºF, about 30 minutes.

5. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing crosswise into thin (about 1/2-inch thick) slices. Yields about 3 ounces per serving for just 3 points a serving!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Penne with Peppers and Sausage

I've posted before about one of our favorite Italian recipes so I was thrilled to find a lighter version on weightwatchers.com. This one is served over whole wheat penne pasta instead of parmesan cheese grits, but it is still really tasty!

Penne with Peppers and Sausage

1 spray(s) cooking spray
2 medium green pepper(s), cut into thin strips
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 medium onion(s), thinly sliced
1 cup(s) mushroom(s), sliced
1 pound(s) turkey sausage, spicy-Italian flavor (I used Publix Greenwise Hot Chicken Sausage)
1/8 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 small crushed red pepper flakes
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes
3 cup(s) cooked whole wheat pasta, penne, kept hot
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, garlic, onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until almost tender, about 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Remove turkey from casings; add turkey to skillet and brown until no longer pink, stirring occasionally, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 6 minutes. Add oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes; stir in tomatoes. Simmer until heated through and to allow flavors to blend, about 5 minutes.

3. Spoon penne into a deep serving bowl; top with sausage mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving at 6 points a serving!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

French Toast

I am loving the Hungry Girl website and most recently, the cookbook I ordered that compiles some of her best recipes. I love that it includes things like chili dogs, ultimate nachos and the french toast pictured below! In other words, things that aren't usually diet-friendly.

This french toast recipe is simple enough to be thrown together on a work morning and is amazingly good despite its simplicity. We've had it a couple times now and really like it topped with sugar free maple syrup, Fat Free ReddiWhip and fresh strawberries.

Here's how easy it is to make!

3 slices light bread (I used Nature's Own Light Honey Wheat)
1/3 cup egg beaters, original
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (divided)
1 packet Splenda

Combine egg beaters with extract and half of the cinnamon. Dip the bread in the egg mixture to cover. Cook in a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray until both sides are brown. Plate the french toast and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and the Splenda. Just 3 pts for 3 slices!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Roasted Brisket

My family was introduced to brisket years and years ago by some wonderful Jewish friends of ours. We had never had it and loved how tender the slow roasted meat was...almost like a fancier pot roast! We were also introduced to gefilte fish at the same meal...but didn't love that nearly as much! :)




I found this Roasted Brisket recipe which was perfect for the brisket I had picked up and stuck in the freezer the last time they were on sale. I loved this meal...I loved the tomatoey sauce and the roasted vegetables. This is definitely a comfort food for me. I made the recipe as it appears below except that I left out the mushrooms.




1 large onion(s), sliced
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 pound(s) baby carrots
5 oz mushroom(s), sliced (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 pound(s) raw lean beef brisket, trimmed, use brisket from the flat half
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 small crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Spread onion slices and garlic on bottom of a nonstick roasting pan; top with carrots and mushrooms. Arrange beef over vegetables.

In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve sugar.

Pour tomato mixture over brisket and vegetables; tightly cover with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roast for 2 hours and then remove from oven; uncover, stir and use pan juices to baste meat. Return brisket to oven and roast for about 1 hour more, uncovered, basting every 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Serve meat and vegetables with sauce spooned over top. Yields about 3 ounces of beef plus 3/4 cup of vegetables and sauce per serving for 5 points!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year & Black Eyed Peas

Happy New Year, friends! I hope everyone had a fabulous and fun start to the new year. I always love when a new year rolls around...I love the idea that you have the whole year ahead to do with what you want!

For me, a lot of the ol' resolutions this year revolve around getting back in shape. 2.5 years of marriage is starting to show up in ways I didn't want it to so it's time to get it in gear! So that means you'll be seeing a lot more healthy recipes here (hopefully you don't mind!). I'm a big fan of Weight Watchers recipes when we're trying to eat better...they are usually quite simple and tasty for "diet" food. So you'll be seeing a lot of those too!


For starters (and what could be more appropriate for a New Year?) we had this Spicy Collards and Black-Eyed Pea soup (and I found another fantastic blog in the process) yesterday to ring in 2009.




I prepared Susan's recipe exactly as it was posted except for leaving out the chipotle pepper (would have loved it, but didn't have any in the pantry so I added some extra hot sauce).

2 onions, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water
1 pound collard greens, tough stems removed and greens chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme (divided)
1 teaspoon oregano (divided)
1 16-ounce can tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
2 cups water (or vegetable broth)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper -- (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 -2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon double strength tomato paste (or 2 tbsp. regular)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Spray a large pot with a light coating of olive oil or non-stick spray. Heat it and add the onions, sauteing for about 5 minutes before adding celery, green pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 more minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, water, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.

Cook until peas are tender, about 45-55 minutes (it took about 50 mins for me). Once the peas are tender, add all remaining ingredients and cook for at least 25 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

Makes at least 6 servings. Each provides 242 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 488mg Sodium; 11g Fiber. Weight Watchers 3 Flex Points.

And that yummy cornbread you see pictured above is a Weight Watchers recipe too...shaves 2 points per serving of the normal version without sacrificing flavor.

1 cup(s) uncooked cornmeal, yellow
1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 3/4 oz cream-style corn, canned
1/2 cup(s) buttermilk
2 large egg white(s)
2 tsp corn oil (I used canola)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix well with a fork, then make a well in the centre; set aside. Combine creamed corn, buttermilk, egg whites and oil in a medium bowl; mix until blended. Fold mixture into dry ingredients; mix until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted near the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely before cutting into 8 squares.

**Stop by Christie's Cupcakes for a 2 point cupcake!