Sunday, December 23, 2007

You don't have to Challah!

Or do you? After last week's adventure with yeast (Soft Pretzels), I was game for the next yeasty challenge.

Did you know that the term challah isn't actually the loaf of bread that we associate it with? The word challah actually refers to a small piece of dough (about one-tenth of the total amount of diuhg) that is removed prior to shaping your loaf. A blessing is said over the dough and that small ball of dough is then discarded or burnt in the oven that the bread will bake in. In biblical times, the small ball of dough was given as a tac to the Jewish priesthood. (Thank you WIki, for clarifying all this for me!)

I found this recipe in The New York Times Jewish Cookbook. This cookbook has several challah recipes, I settled on a rather unconventional one: Bejma (Tunisian Triangular Challah). It wasn't my first choice, but one recipe needed 8 hours to rise (who has that kind of time?), the other called for way too much sugar, and the third one's instructions were 2 whole pages long. So I opted for the Bejma,which really didn't seem much different from the others. Flour, eggs, yeast, salt, sugar, oil..... they all had the same ingredients.

Final result: a little dense. Challah should be light and airy...and slightly sweet. I halved this recipe and made two loaves out of the dough. One as a traditional bejma, and the 2nd a traditional Jewish braided loaf. The bejma was actually denser than the braid, probably because the balls are thicker than the strands in the braid. Next tme I'll try one of the other recipes my cookbook ahs to offer, but this bread certainly won't go to waste. French toast, anyone?

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoons of the sugar in 1 cup of the water in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir into the yeast mixture 3 of the eggs, oil, salt, and the remaining water and sugar. Slowly knead in enough flour to make a soft, tacky dough. Using your hands or a dough hook on the mixer, knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a floured board, place in a greased bowl, and let rise, covered, for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and divide into 9 rounds about the size of tennis balls. Place 3 rounds together on a greased cookie sheet, touching, to form a triangle. Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Beat the remaining egg with a little water and brush the dough. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and loaves sound hollow.

Yields 3 loaves (8 servings per loaf)

WW info: 3 points per slice.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Burgers

A lot of people in my blog circles have been posting about such burgers recently, but I swear that I was thinking about doing this before I saw these other recipes. I had an unusual abundance of dried cranberries and fresh sage for some reason, and all I can think of when I think of those 2 ingredients is Thanksgiving.

The one ingredient I was hesitant to use was the store-bought gravy. As far as I'm concerned, its sacrilegious. Its faux gravy. But it did smell and taste like real gravy. Not my gravy, but like gravy. I would never use it on real turkey meat as gravy should be used, but I'd recommend it for adding flavor when flavor is needed.

This burger is different. Its definitely not your typical "summer BBQ" burger. It is savory, juicy, and everything else a burger should be. Its the new and updated Thanksgiving sandwich. Its the new "IT" burger. I've decided.

1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg white
1/4 cup Heinz Fat-Free Turkey gravy
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs*
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dried cranberries**
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped and loosely packed
1 tsp onion powder
20 ounces lean ground turkey

*To make a core, recipe substitute with ground oatmeal.
** Dried cranberries are not a Core item, but once mixed through all the meat, the amount of cranberries per serving is negligible.

Heat oil in a small saute pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Mix all ingredients including the sauteed onions (except the ground turkey) in a large bowl until well blended. Add the meat and fold in with a wooden spoon until blended. Be careful to not overmix the meat or else you will end up with tough burgers.

Form into 6 patties. Grill or broil until coked through.

Serve on wheat bun with a drizzle of turkey gravy and 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce (jellied, homemade, whatever!)

Yields 6 burgers.

WW info:
core - included
flex - 3 point each (not including bun or cranberry sauce)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tilapia Oreganato

I have to confess that I kind of licked my plate a little. This came out better than I thought it might. The breadcrumbs were perfectly crunchy and the fish was light and flaky. Its pretty basic. You can definitely substitute the butter spray for real butter, just make sure you count for that if you are on Weight Watchers!

non-stick cooking spray
4 (4 ounce) tilapia fillets
salt and pepper to season
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, divided
imitation butter spray
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp plain breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Place tilapia fillets on foil covered sheet and season with salt and pepper. Reserve 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and drizzle the other tablespoon over the fillets. Give each fillet one spray of butter and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs, remaining lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, and 5 sprays of butter. Mix until well blended. Spoon a quarter of the mixture onto each fillet, covering the top surface completely and evenly. Give each a light spray of cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until fish flakes with a fork and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
core - 2.5 points
flex - 4.5 points

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Double Chocolate Cookies

I'm sad. I have been on a baking kick and I finally found the cookie that I really wanted to make in the Technicolor Kitchen. It's the same Martha Stewart recipe that several bloggers have been making and everyone seems to have pulled it off without fail. But alas, not I. Don't get me wrong....the end result was very, very tasty. Just not what I had a hankering for when I set out to make them.

Now of course, its my own fault for slightly altering the ingredients to accommodate my Weight Watchers lifestyle. But I really didn't think I changed it enough to completely alter the final product. I subbed Egg Beaters for egg, half the sugar for Splenda, and the white flour for wheat flour. And since it was an impulse baking event for me, I had to sub Nestle mini chocolate chips for the chocolate. I also didn't have parchment paper or a Silpat, but was advised that as long as my cookie sheets were greased properly, I'd be fine. Maybe that was where I went wrong. Or maybe I made them too small. Who knows.

The end story is that my cookies didn't really spread. The final result was very cake-y. Almost like brownie bites. Yummy, but not what I set out to make. My altered recipe is below. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a chewy, cakey cookie.

(half the original recipe)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
100 grams (about 2 ounces) semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1/4 cup Egg Beaters
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Melt half the chocolate chips with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly.

Put chocolate mixture, sugar, Splenda, egg, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in remaining chocolate chips.

Using a rounded teaspoon, drop dough onto greased baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes cookies. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

WW info:
1 point per cookie

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Taste of NYC: Soft Pretzels

I did it.....I faced one of my biggest baking fears: yeast. How silly was I to be afraid of such a tiny little packet of powder? There has been a huge boom of soft pretzels in the blog circles I travel in and I picked I Shot the Chef's to follow. My dough didn't come out sticky or as smooth as she describes (I probably would follow her advice next time and not add the last 1/4 cup of flour)and I forgot to let the dough rise after dividing it up into balls AND after I shaped them into pretzels, but they came out great! I divided the dough up into 2 different size portions: 1 and 2 ounce balls for small and large pretzels. Of course, the end, I was sick of forming the pretzels so I starting making knots (like garlic knots) which I kind of like better.

WW info:
1 point per small pretzel/knot (one ounce of dough)
2 points per large pretzel (2 ounces of dough)

Chewy Chocolate Mint Bites

I recently had the pleasure of indulging in Dancing Deer's Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. Oh my. I'm not a big mint person, but these cookies took the cake. Or took the cookie. Whatev. So I set out to try to replicate it as best as possible.

These little bites are inspired by a recipe from are close, but I guess since I'm not a baker, I can't expect myself to be able to replicate a professionally made cookie. Nonetheless, these came out nice a cris outside and chewy inside. The addition of the mint (which was part of my altering the original recipe) is really refreshing. I ate 2 bites about 30 minutes ago and my breath still feels minty fresh.

What kills me is that this is a "Weight Watchers" recipe. They are 1 point per BALL. They are only 1 inch each in diameter, which means you have to eat at least 3-4 for a real snack. Which means its really 3-4 points per serving, which defeats the WW purpose. At any rate, I've added the WW tag to this entry, but WW readers be advised that I wouldn't recommend it as a really great WW choice.

non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup Splenda
4 oz unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat two nonstick cookie sheets with cooking spray. Place cocoa, margarine and sugar in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer. Add applesauce, vanilla and peppermint; beat to blend. In another small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into cocoa batter with a wooden spoon. (Mixture will be on the dry side.) Shape batter into 48 marble-sized balls. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. (Note: cookies will cook in marble-shapes. They won't spread.)Remove from oven and allow cookies to stand for 1 minute. Remove to wire rack and cool; sprinkle with powdered sugar. (Note: Store extra cookies in freezer-safe containers or plastic bags to maintain their freshness.)

Yields 1 cookie per serving.

WW info: 1 point per cookie

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cajun Cornmeal Crusted Catfish

I don't know if catfish is my preference, but I will definitely be making this recipe again. The crust was incredibly crispy for not being fried. Probably better than if it had been pan-fried in oil. This would be great on any flakey fish fillet. Snapper, tilapia, cod ... whatever your fancy.

non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup coarse cornmeal
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/8 cup egg substitute
4 (6 ounce) catfish fillets

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray.

Mix cornmeal and Cajun seasoning in a shallow bowl. Pour egg into a second shallow bowl. Dip each fillet in the egg and then dredge through seasoned cornmeal. Place on baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is flaky.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
core: all included
flex: 5 points

Sunday, December 9, 2007

WC Recipe Exchange Challenge: Oatmeal Cake!

This is my first time participating in any kind of "blog" event. A cooking chat board that I frequent decided to do an exchange of dessert recipes. The rules were simple: submit a recipe, and get a recipe that you have to cook and post in your blog. I was extremely nervous about this given that I am NOT a baker, so I did make one teeny, tiny request when submitting mine: that I don't get assigned a recipe that requires a Kitchen Aid mixer. Granted, you could technically make anything without one of these highly coveted small appliances, but I was hoping for something that might not involve a terribly complicated dough (since like I said, I am not a baker).

I was psyched for this recipe since I LOVE LOVE LOVE oatmeal. And pecans. And brown sugar. When I first read the recipe, for some reason it sounded like an ideal cake for a bundt. I don't know why, but it did. It was a little denser than your typical bundt cake (it didn't rise very much and kinf of jsut hung out in the bottom half of the bundt pan, but it worked (because you could drizzle all the topping gooey-ness over the outside AND inside edges). I had to increase the cooking time ALOT, but it was worth it.

I've posted the original recipe with my changes red. I did make a significant number of changes to accommodate the Weight Watchers fans out there.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup quick or old fashioned oats (I used quick for a finer texture)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
(I used light butter since thats what I always have on hand)
1 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
1 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar use 1/2 cup to every cup of brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
(I used white whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix boiling water and oats together and set aside. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs to creamed mixture. Add oatmeal mixture and mix well.

Stir flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together and add slowly to wet mixture. Pour into a 13" x 9" pan sprayed with non-stck cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes till toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out dry. (To bake in bundt pan, increae cooking time to 65-75 minutes.)

1 cup brown sugar (I only used 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) (I used only 1/4 cup light butter)
2 tbsp evaporated milk (I used 3 to compensate for the left out butter)

1 c coconut
(I didn't use this...I hate coconut!)
1/2 c diced pecans

Melt brown sugar, butter and evaporated milk on medium heat in sauce pot until bubbly. Add coconut and pecans and pour over baked cake.

Put back in oven under the broiler until golden brown & bubbly. Cool and serve.
(I didn't return the cake to the oven ... it was just fine at room temperature.)

Yields 24 slices.

WW info: 3 points per slice.

Baked Pasta with Tons of Vegetables

In an effort to "sneak" some vegetables onto my husband's plate, I thought I might try this. My plan was both a success and failure. A success because he LOVED it! A failure because he exact words were, "Wow, I like this so much better than your other baked ziti." Turns out he has always hated my plain baked ziti (sans veggies) but never had the heart to tell me. Oh well... at least he really like this. And I don't have to force the veggies down his throat. Amen to that.

2 1/2 cups uncooked penne or ziti (regular or whole wheat)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper chopped
1/2 cup orange pepper chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
1 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese
non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and peppers and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. Continue to cook another 5-7 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano, pepper, tomatoes, marinara sauce and spinach. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir cooked pasta and half the ricotta cheese into the sauce. Transfer the pasta mixture into a 9x13 glass baking dish. Dollop the remaining ricotta cheese on top of the pasta and cover. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese oand spry lightly with cooking spray. Return to oven and cook until the cheese has melted.

Yields 6 servings.

WW info:
flex: 5 points per serving
core: all included if using whole wheat pasta

Semi-Homemade Breadsticks

Let's face it ... sometimes you have to play the Sandra Lee card. I am no baker. I've never attempted to make anything that involves yeast. Frankly, working with yeast scares the bejeezus out of me. But I find that preseasoned breadsticks are always waaaay too salty (if you are a fan of my blog, you will rarely see salt as an ingredient), so I figured I'd give this a go. Score! I know most people use crescent roll dough for this sort of item, but I like the slightly denser dough of pizza dough versus the flakiness of crescents.

1 tube Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust dough
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Open dough tube and spread evenly over a large non-stick baking sheet. Brush about 3/4 of the oil over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and the shredded cheese over oil.

Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough in half down the long length of the baking sheet, and then into 12 strips the other direction, creating a total of 24 breadsticks. Grab the end of each stick and twist each end in the opposite direction of each other, turning the underside of each end up. Firmly press the ends onto the baking sheet and then brush the undersides of the ends with the remaining olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Yields 24 breadsticks.

WW info: 1 point each

Monday, December 3, 2007

Latke vs. Latke

Some are fried; some are roasted .... can you tell which are which?

Latkes don't have to be unhealthy, you know. The ingredients aren't bad, its the frying that will do you in. I prepared the mixture (per weight watchers core so I could indulge myself as much as possible) but fried half and roasted half (again, so I could partake in the Hanukkah deliciousness without the fat and calories). The roasted ones were just OK. Nothing takes the place of a fried potato latke.

1 medium onion, grated
3 large all-purpose potatoes, grated
1/4 cup matzoh meal*
1/4 cup egg substitute
cooking spray

*If following WW Core, substitute matzoh meal with oats (quick or old-fashioned), ground in food processor to flour-like texture.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Grate onion and potatoes and squeeze as much moisture out of them as possible. Mix in a large bowl with ground oats and egg. Add more egg if the 1/4 cup doesn't seem to coat and bind the potatoes.

Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray and create 12 pancakes, each made up of 1/3 cup of the mixture. Spray tops of each pancake ightly with cooking spray and place sheets on center rack in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Yields 12 latkes.

WW info:
flex - 1 point per latke
core - all included (if oatmeal is used)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Beef Brisket

What people don't know is that the eleventh commandment is "Thou shalt eat brisket." You can't really screw this recipe up, unless you undercook the meat. The longer it cooks, the softer it gets, which is the opposite of how cooking meat usually works. I've incorporated a combination of a few different recipes to make my own creation. Its a little my mom's, a little my mother-in-law's, and a little my mom's best friend's. It's the best. I promise.

24 ounces tomato juice
1 (12 ounce) jar of Heinz chili sauce
1 Tbsp white horseradish
1 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (3 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
3 large carrots, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first 7 ingredients (save for half the chili sauce) together in a large bowl. Place half the onions and garlic in a large roasting pan (like this one, with a tight lid). Pour about 1/2 the liquid over the onions and garlic. Place the brisket over this and the remaining onions and garlic on top. Pour the rest of the liquid over the brisket and cover tightly. Place in oven and cook for one hour.

After one hour, turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Add the carrots and return to oven. Cook for an additional hour. After the second hour, quarter potatoes and add to roasting pan. If there isn't enough liquid to cover all the contents of the roasting pan now, add water to the remaining chili sauce in the jar and shake vigorously. Add as needed to make sure all contents are covered in liquid. Cook for an additional hour (time based on a 3 pound brisket; approximate 1 hour cooking time per pound of meat)

Remove from oven and let stand to come to room temperature before slicing. Best if made one or two days ahead of time.

Yields 8-10 servings (2 slices of brisket and 1 1/2 cups of potatoes and carrots)

WW info:
7 points per serving.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This was a hard recipe to type up since chicken soup os one of those things that you can use anything and everything. A few weeks ago, chicken breast halves were on sale at my local grocery store, so I bought a few pounds. I cooked a few breast right away, but removed the rib portions and froze them with the remaining breasts. I figured those little pieces could come in handy for something, like soup.

Last night I decided to make soup today, but I wanted to cook my chicken breast first. I rubbed them with a paste of olive oil, fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme and roasted them. Rather then throw the raw chicken into the soup, I roasted them ahead of time for 2 reasons: a) i'm still not quite there on the whole making soup 100% from scratch, and b) it gives the opportunity to add that extra flavor of the fresh herbs that cook into the chicken. It also makes the recipe easier to lend to using leftovers when they are available.

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 parsnip, finely chopped
1/2 pound leftover chicken rib sections (removed from previously cooked chicken breasts)
cold water (about 2 cups)
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp dried parsely
2 bay leaves
4 cups reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped or shredded
3/4 cup wild rice
1/4 cup long grain white rice*

*Substitute 1/4 cup wild rice to make this recipe 100% WW core.

Add chopped vegetables and raw chicken pieces to a large stock pot. Add cold water to the pot, just enough to cover the vegetables and chicken. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, parsely, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for about 45 minutes.

Remove chicken pieces. Add chicken broth, chopped chicken, and rice. Cover tightly and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about an hour. Add more broth to reach desired consistency (recipe as is will make a thick soup).

Yields 10 servings (about 1 cup each).

WW info:
core - included (if not using white rice)
flex - 3 points.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Confession: I thought I hated stuffed peppers and I had never even tried them. But I was inspired by a recent online posting of peppers stuffed with quinoa. Coincidentally I had a bag of this ancient grain in my pantry that I had purchased, but never used. The only reason I had bought it was because I found out it was legal WW core food. But I had no idea how to incorporate it into my cooking. This recipe is fantastic. The flavor really comes from the meat, which is AWESOME.

1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth
4 bell peppers (any color)
2 cups Sloppy Joe mixture
1 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix quinoa, water, and broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once mixture comes to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes (until all liquid is absorbed). Remove from heat and cover to keep moist.

Cut tops of peppers and remove seeds and ribs. (When choosing peppers, be sure to pick peppers that have 3-4 bumps on the bottom to help them stand up). Place hollowed peppers on foil-covered baking sheet. Place 2 heaping spoonfuls of quinoa in the bottom of each pepper. Then place about 2 spoonfuls of sloppy joe mixture in each pepper. Add another layer of quinoa and sloppy joe to each pepper for a total of 4 layers each. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove peppers from the oven and sprinkle cheese on top of each pepper and spray tops lightly with cooking spray. Return sheet to oven and bake until cheese is melted.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
flex-5.5 points

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hoisin Barbequed Beef

I guess its not really barbeque if you don't grill it. But the hoisin sauce is Chinese BBQ sauce. Who knew? (Well, maybe you did but I sure didn't.)

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp brown sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Baste beef (or chicken) for grilling or use as stir-fry sauce.

Yields 1/2 cup sauce.

WW info:
1 point per serving.

My New Favorite Blog

Someone out there sure has a lot of free time on their hands, but thats OK since they are making it easier for me to find things to laugh at.

And I would be honored to be called out by the Ugly Food Blogger. I recognize that I don't make the most delicious items and that I am not the best photographer and that I am sometimes not the most original chef.

Blog on, Ugly Food Blogger ... blog on.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Shepard's Pie

Attractive, no? Tasty? YES!

This dinner officially marks the end of Thanksgiving 2007. All the leftover turkey went in here (except for a little breast meat for my salad tomorrow). It was pretty tasty. Not so much attractive, but tasty.

1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/4 cup leftover turkey breast, chopped
1 cup reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup leftover green beans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add carrots, onion, celery, turkey and broth to a suace pan. Stir in herbs and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce. Remove from heat.

Spread half the mashed potatoes at the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish. Reserve 1/4 cup broth from turkey mixture. Add turkey mixture to casserole dish over potatoes. Layer green beans over turkey mixture. Layer remaining potatoes over green beans, smoothing the top out with the back of a spoon. Pout reserved broth over top layer of potatoes.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Yields 2-3 servings.

WW info:
core-included (if potatoes are made with core ingredients)
flex- 5 points

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: The Wrap

Today's leftovers: the wrap.

Stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce in a whole wheat wrap. And some leftover green beans on the side.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving in a Nutshell

Dinner was a raging success. No need to get into the details, but it was de-lish!

And then dessert. I'm not a HUGE dessert person, but a few of most favorite things are on this table. Chocolate cake, apple pie, bakery cookies, and chocolate covered pretzels. And my new favorite: Chocolate Pecan Tart (bottom left ... homemade by yours truly, and coincidentally, the only homemade item in this spread).

Spinach Dip

No secrets here.

1 (16 ounce) fat-free sour cream
1 packet vegetable dip mix
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, defrosted

Mix sour cream and dip mix together well. Squeeze as much moisture from spinach as possible and fold into sour cream mixture.

Serve with veggies.

Yields 12 servings (1/4 cup of dip per serving).

WW info:
flex-1 point per serving

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes were just OK. I think they needed more liquid. They tasted great right out of the pot, but after sitting for about a half hour waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to be served, they got too dry. There's definite potential here, but it needs more liquid to get there.

10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup fat-free half & half, warmed
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until potatoes are fork tender. Drain.

Add potatoes back to pot and add warm half & half and butter and mash potatoes. Halfway through mashing, add cheese and continue to mash potatoes and stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

WW info:
2 points per serving.

Thanksgiving Turkey

My first turkey! I swear, my mom was tearing up. To quote her: She didn't pass the torch...I stole it.

1 hen turkey (12-14) pounds

2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh sage
1 packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
2 Tbsp light olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 onion
4 cloves garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove neck and giblets from inside turkey. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Finely chop the leaves off one sprig of each fresh herb. Place chopped herbs in a small bowl and add Good Seasons mix, olive oil, and vinegar. Blend into a paste. Massage paste onto turkey, making sure to get it into all cervices. Slice onion in half and palce inside the turkey cavity with garlic cloves and remaining sprigs of herbs. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan. Pour broth in the bottom of the pan. Roast for one hour. After one hour, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and rotate turkey to turn the breast side up. Place back in the oven and baste every 20 minutes. Yield 10-12 servings.

Haricot Verts with Shallots

Since only about 3 people at my Thanksgiving table would eat a green bean casserole (myself included), I decided to forgo it this year and just do some healthy green beans with a little extra flavor.

1 Tbsp light olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 pound haricot verts (the skinny green beans!)

Heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until soft. Stir in vinegar and cook for one minute. Add green beans and toss well. Cook until beans are heated throughout.

Yields 8 servings.

WW info
flex-1 point per serving.

Pecan Chocolate Tart

Oh. My. God. This desert was amazing! I saw it on the cover of November's Cooking Light and thought it looked delicious. And my was the easiest recipe ever! I am NOT a baker so this was right up my alley. Everyone raved about it and I think this is my new "it" dessert.

Here is a link to original recipe. Here's a list of my changes:

  • the original recipe called for bourbon - i used chocolate liquor.
  • the original recipe called for molasses - I used honey (I didn't need to buy whole bottle for 2 Tbsp worth, plus the brown sugar provided plenty of molasses flavor)
  • the original recipe called for bittersweet chocolate - i used hot fudge ( i DID buy Ghiradelli chocolate, but it didnt melt properly at first and then it burned...thank god i had hot fudge in the fridge)

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons chocolate liquor
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury) cooking spray
1 ounce hot fudge sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine first 10 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in pecans. Roll dough into a 13-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Trim excess crust using a sharp knife. Spoon sugar mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over tart.

Yields 12 servings.

Oh yeah....

Thanksgiving-y Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

My husband wanted soup for an appetizer at Thanksgiving dinner, but who need soup with a giant turkey and about 10 different kinds of carb-laden side dishes. I opted for something lighter and went out of my comfort zone for salad (lettuce, tomato and cucumber) and ventured to a salad world unknown to me. Apples, cranberries, and almonds - oh my!

1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

10 oz mixed field greens
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced thin
1 teaspoon lemon juice (to keep apple from browning)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1 ounce Gouda cheese, shaved

Mix broth, vinegar and honey in a bowl until honey dissolves. Mix in seasonings, followed by olive oil.

Toss salad greens in a bowl with dressing. Plate lettuce and layer apples, almonds, cranberries and cheese on top.

Yields 10 servings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pan Fried Polenta

Hellooooooooo cornmeal! Who knew that cornmeal was a legal food item on WW core? Not me! So how psyched was I to find this information out? Then to only find out that polenta is cornmeal and water? Hmm.... the wheels are turning. I just got a new cookbook and there is a recipe for polenta, so I'm off and running. The best parts is, the cookbook isn't even a diet cookbook. Good food can be found in non-diet cookbooks!

2 1/4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
non-stick cooking spray
1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute)
1/8 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup marinara sauce

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan and gradually sprinkle in the cornmeal, stirring constantly to break up any lumps. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the cornmeal gets thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray and spoon in cooked cornmeal. Spread out evenly, using the back of a wet spoon or spatula. Allow to fully cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Cut cornmeal into 16 squares. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Pour breadcrumbs into a flat bowl. Using a pastry brush or basting brush, brush tops and bottoms of squares with egg and place squares in breadcrumbs to lightly coat with breadcrumbs. Cook squares until golden brown on both sides.

Yields 8 servings.

WW info:
flex - 1.5 points per serving.
core - included (the amount of breadcrumbs and cheese divided up among 8 servings makes the point amount trivial)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eggplant Lasagna

I found this recipe in
Everyday Food magazine a while back. After slightly tweaking it, its become a staple in our house. You can also grill the eggplant slices, rather than roast them in oven. You also don't have to use fat free cheese, but thats the best way for me to figure out WW points.

1 large eggplant
non-stick cooking spray
2 cups of tomato sauce
8 ounces fat-free ricotta cheese
1 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut top and bottom off eggplant and discard. Stand eggplant up on one end and slice downward, creating ¼" to ½" slices, for a total of 8 slices. Brush each side of the eggplant slices with olive oil and lay flat on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn slices over and bake another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the egg, ricotta cheese, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, basil, and oregano in a medium bowl.

In an 8" x 8" baking dish, pour enough sauce to coat the bottom. Then layer two slices of eggplant, side by side. Spoon cheese mixture on top of eggplant slices (about 2 or 3 spoonfuls per slice) and pour sauce over the cheese layer to coat it. Continue layering of eggplant, cheese, and sauce, making sure to alternate the direction of the eggplant 90° with every layer. Bake for 25 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over dish and bake until melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

Yields 4 servings when served on its own, or 6 servings if served with a side of pasta.

WW info:
core - all included if using fat-free cheeses and sauce made from core ingredients
flex - 3 points per serving based on 6 servings; 4 points per serving based on 4 servings.

Oatmeal vs. Breadcrumbs

If you are following the Weight Watchers Core plan, you can substitute oatmeal where breadcrumbs are called for if the breadcrumbs are the only thing preventing a recipe from being core. Grind the oatmeal in a food processor for a finer texture. I recommend this to avoid biting into whole grains of oatmeal in the middle of a meatloaf or meatball.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chicken Parmesan

No cute story here. Had some extra chicken and I'm sick of grilling it or sauteeing it or throwing vegetables on top of it. And by way of a small miracle, this is 90% core (WW reference, for all you non-WW readers). You can make it 100% core if you use oatmeal as the breadcrumbs. I'm willing to take the 1 point as to not compromise the texture of the breading, since thats my favorite part. I also like the texture of mixing the breadcrumbs and panko together.

4 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup egg substitute or 1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
(OR 1 cup quick cooking oats instead of breadcrumbs and panko to stay core)
non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 cup fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour egg in a large flat bowl. Mix breadcrumbs and panko together in second large flat bowl (or oatmeal if following core). Dip one chicken breast in the egg and then dredge through the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat for each chicken breast.

Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Spray each side of chicken cutlets lightly with cooking spray. "Fry" each cutlet on each side just until the breading starts to brown and crisp up slightly.

Place cutlets on a baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Spray reverse side when you flip the cutlets. After 25 minutes, spread about 2 tablespoons sauce over each cutlet and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each. Bake until cheese is melted.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
core: 1 point (for breadcrumbs; 0 if use sub with oatmeal)
flex: 6 points

Monday, November 5, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese (the kinda healthy kind)

Well, color me orange....this was ridiculously good for being "healthy." I put healthy in quotes because while the squash adds nutritional value, it doesnt help cut the fat since its just replacing milk, not cheese. It made the sauce incredibly thick and creamy. I'd highly recommend this recipe. You can't taste the squash at all. I swear it. If my husband couldn't taste it and mistook this for my original recipe, then it MUST be good.

Here is a link to the original recipe. It was the first time I ever watched Ellie Kreiger, because let's face it...who wants to watch a show about healthy eating? But I was pleasantly surprised. You really won't be disappointed with this recipe.

cooking spray
1/2 pound cavatappi macaroni
1 (10-ounce) package frozen pureed winter squash
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
5 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces Romano cheese, shredded
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon light butter
2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in 4 ounces Cheddar, 1 1/2 ounces Romano, ricotta cheese, salt, and pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.

Sprinkle remaining ounce of cheddar cheese and 1/2 ounce Romano over macaroni in baking dish. In a small microwavable dish, melt butter. Stir in breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
10 points per serving

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cute cookies, but they taste just OK. The recipe was from, so how much could I expect? The entire problem could have also been that I used light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar like the recipe called for. And I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. So maybe I'll try them again and follow the recipe exactly and give them another chance. But for 1 point per cookie, I'd rather eat a reduced-fat Oreo.

WW info: 1 point per cookie.

Life is better with glitter.

This was so easy and they are so pretty, I wish I could glitter everything.

Stuffin' Muffins

This is a trial run for Thanksgiving. Until a few years ago, I only made stuffing from the bag (like Pepperidge Farms stuff, never Stove Top) and then I went to my mom's friend's house for Thanksgiving and all bets were off! I've made a few adjustments, but the idea is generally the same. Lots of veggies and flavor! Try a mix of red, yellow and orange peppers for flavor. Add feel free to add some fresh mushrooms, but makde sure to use the canned. You need the juice for moisture and flavor. This is my first time making it as muffins ... I've always made it in a 9x13 dish. This is portion control practice. ;)

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons light butter
1 loaf Wonder Light White bread
1/2 cup Egg Beater
1/4 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (6 ounce) can of mushroom pieces and stems
non-stick cooking spray

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add celery, onion, pepper, carrot, and garlic and stir well. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover and cook until soft, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take bread and cut slices into cubes. Place in a large bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix egg, broth, seasonings, and liquid from canned mushrooms. If the mushrooms are in large pieces, run your knife through them to break them down a bit.

Add cooked vegetables, egg & broth mixture, and mushrooms to bowl of bread cubes and mix very well. If mixture seems dry, add some more broth.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Distribute stuffing mixture evenly into muffin tin cups. If serving alongside roasted chicken or turkey, drizzle about a 1/2 tablespoon of drippings (or gravy if already made) over each muffin and spray tops lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes.

Yields 12 servings.

WW info:
2 points per muffin.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mango Salsa (over Pork Chops)

There are three things on this plate that until recently I never would have considered eating: sweet potato, asparagus and mango. Now I have one word for all of it: yum!

I always thought I didn't like mango until I accidentally ate some thinking it was pineapple. Yum! Now its my favorite side on fish and stuff. Shown above on pork chops marinated in a little teriyaki sauce and garlic powder.

1 cup mango, cubed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (preferbaly overnight) to allow flavors to blend. Serve over chicken, fish or pork. Yields 4 servings.

WW info: flex- 0 points core: all included

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Foodie Fashionista is to pizza as Cookie Monster is to cookies. I LOVE pizza.

I just recently discovered Boboli Whole Wheat Thin Crust. Topped with my homemade sauce (1/2 cup), fat-free mozzarella cheese (1 cup), and some sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers (using Pam, not oil) ... this is my new favorite easy supper.

1 pie=3 servings of 2 slices each.

WW info:
flex: 8 points per serving
core: 3 points (for the crust)

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

OK, there's 5 minutes of baking involved. But other than that, its really easy and I guarantee that won't be a crumb left. I brought this to work today for a pot-luck luncheon and it DISAPPEARED. Save yourself a piece before you serve.

1 egg white

1 premade Oreo pie crust
1 cup + 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
12 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (12 ounce) jar of hot fudge

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat the egg white in a small bowl and brush pie crust with egg white and bake for 5 minutes. Allow crust to cool completely before adding filling.

Using an electric hand mixer, beat 1 cup peanut butter, sugar, and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Gently fold in 3 cups of whipped topping. Spoon mixture into pie crust and smooth to edges.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of hot fudge in a plastic sandwich baggie and set aside. Heat the rest of the hot fudge in microwave for one minute (remove metal cap from jar!). Stir and spread to cover peanut butter mixture evenly to the edges. Refrigerate until serving (at least one hour).

Just before serving, spread remaining whipped topping over hot fudge layer. Knead hot fudge in the baggie until soft. Snip a corner off the bag and drizzle in parallel lines over whipped topping. Follow same instructions for the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and drizzle in opposite direction of fudge.

Topping Alternatives:
Skip the fudge and PB drizzle and sprinkle Reeses Pieces over top (as shown above) OR smash Reese's PB cups or Oreos and sprinkle crumbs over top.

Yields 8-12 servings.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sloppy Joe

This is actually a Weight Watchers recipe that someone had emailed me a looong time ago....way before I even considered Weight Watchers. Its way better than Crapwich, I mean Manwich.

2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion(s), chopped
2 medium celery, stalks, chopped
1 medium bell pepper(s), chopped
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
20 oz canned crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
8 light hamburger roll(s)

Heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and bell pepper and sauté until tender, 3 minutes. Add turkey and sauté until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks, 5 minutes. Add chili powder, basil, salt, black pepper and cayenne; stir to coat. Add crushed tomatoes, ketchup and mustard; mix well.

Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Stir in corn and simmer 2 minutes to heat through. Spoon mixture onto rolls and serve hot.

Yields 8 servings.

WW info:
flex: 4 points per serving
core: 1 point (for the bun)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Swordfish Kebobs

The hubby is out of town so that means its fish night! It may be in the 40s outside, but I'm still grilling. This is a keeper for next summer. Next time I'm adding some zucchini and red peppers to really beef up the veggie content.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 pound swordfish steak
1 small red onion, quartered and separated
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed (about 20 mushrooms)
non-stick cooking spray

kebob skewers

If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 10 minutes prior to using.

Remove any skin from swordfish fillet and cut into 1" cubes. Add swordfish cubes, onion pieces, tomatoes, and mushroom caps to a bowl. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, oil, and seasoning. Add half to fish and vegetables; reserve half. Toss fish, vegetables, and dressing until everything is well coated.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. and spray grates with non stick cooking spray. Make skewers, being especially careful to spear the fish directly through the center of each piece (spearing it off-center can cause the fish to fall off the skewers while cooking).

Place skewers on grill and cook for about 10 minutes, rotating skewers once or twice. Use reserved dressing to baste skewers halfway through cooking. Cook until swordfish is cooked through.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
core- all included
flex- 5 points per serving

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Portobello Layered Mashed Potatoes

I adapted this from the recipe I found on Cooking Light and it was DELICIOUS. A great twist on mashed potatoes. I'd bet you can even skip the baking step and just stir the mushroom mixture into the mashed potatoes. Its a shame you can't see the layers of potatoes and mushrooms in my pic though.
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup half and half
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon light butter
1/4 cup fresh onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups finely chopped portobello mushroom caps
1 tablespoon dried basil, divided
non-stick cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon olive oil

Place potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until tender; drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add potatoes back to pot; mash. Add reserved cooking liquid, half and half, 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper, and mix until well blended.

Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes, without stirring. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 4 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in half the basil.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Spread one-third of potato mixture in bottom of a 1.5-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Spread half of the mushroom mixture over potato mixture; repeat layers, ending with potato mixture. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and basil; drizzle with oil. Bake for 25 minutes.

Yield 5 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

WW info:
flex: 3 points
core: 1 point

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I will fight you for the end piece of the meatloaf. It's my favorite part!

OK...this was a magical rising meatloaf. Seriously rose (and stayed risen) like a loaf of bread (see picture below). That's never happened to me before. Perhaps it knew that it would be photographed and wanted to look its best....

non stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion. diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup egg substitute (or one egg)
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup homemade breadcrumbs (or ground oatmeal if following core)
2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
20 oz 93% lean ground beef
20 oz 93% lean ground turkey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a skillet generously with non-stick cooking spray and add oil. Heat over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Cover and let onions sweat and cook until translucent (about 7-10 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine egg, broth, 1/4 cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, seasonings, and about until 3/4 of the sauteed onions and garlic (reserve about 1/4 of the onions and garlic for later). Separate the ground turkey into 4 equal portions, and do the same for the beef. Add 1 portion of each to the bowl at a time. Be careful to combine the meats well (to avoid a whole bite of beef or a whole bite or turkey later on) but at the same time be careful not to overknead the meat (which will result in a tough loaf).

Spray a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray and fill pan with meat, making sure it is spread evenly. Spread remaining ketchup across the top and sprinkle remaining sauteed onions and garlic over the ketchup.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 75 minutes.

**Note: As my loaf cooked and shrunk away from the edges of the pan, I noticed ALOT of fat and grease accumulating at the bottom the loaf pan. At about the 40, 60 and 75 minute marks, I siphoned out as much grease and fat as possible with a turkey baster. This did not lend to any dryness or adversely affect the meatloaf at all. Who needs all that grease anyway? Although, I'm sure with some beef broth, ketchup, and cornstarch it might make a decent gravy.

Yields 8 servings.

WW info:
flex:4 points per serving.
core: included

My Homemade Breadcrumbs

So today I found half a package of light, whole wheat hot dogs buns that got hidden in the back of the fridge. They were kind of stale, but not moldy at all. Seemed like a waste to throw them out, so I decided to grind them up into breadcrumbs. 4 hot dog rolls gave me 3 cups of breadcrumbs, which are way less WW point-heavy than your standard breadcrumbs or panko. They are also a lot less dense (which may or may not have something to do with my crazy-ass rising meatloaf that I made today and used some in).

I'll bet you could even add maybe a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese, some dried basil, oregano, and garlic powder and voila! Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Zuppa Toscano

Thanks to Joelen for the inspiration for this. I altered the recipe slightly (even thought I halved most of the amounts for less soup, i kept the original amounts of the mushrooms and spinach and I didnt cook the sausage as ground sausage...I left it in the casings and cut it up itno bite-size pices once it was cooked). I think this might become a new staple around here! My husband won't like it since he doesn't like sausage, but I think its fab. I was sort of hoping for a crsip, fall day today so I could curl up with a yummy bowl of warm soup, but its in the 70s (so bizarre for October in New England!). Don't worry...I'll enjoy it anyway!

48 ounces fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
8 ounces sweet Italian chicken sausage (2 or 3 links depending on the size of each link)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teapsoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup half and half

Boil potatoes in chicken broth in a 4 quart pot for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place sausage links in a non-stick frying pan and heat over medium-high heat until browned on the outside. Transfer links to a plate and carefully slice each one down the center, lengthwise (be careful, since the inside won't be cooked through and still a little messy since it hasn't solidified yet), and transfer back to the pan, placing the inside face down to cook. Cook until brown. Transfer links back to plate (wash it first since the chicken was partially raw the alst time we used it!) and slice link halves into bite size pieces. Add sausage pieces to broth and potatoes. Add seasonings and mushrooms to soup and stir. Bring back to a boil and simmer until potatoes are fork tender and mushrooms are soft.

Stir in the spinach leaves; cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in half and half; cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Yields about 4-6 servings.

WW info:
3 points per serving if yielding 6 servings.
4 points per serving if yielding 4 servings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Chips

I love turkey burgers. And the best ones are homemade. And in my opinion (and a few other that have also told me so), I make the best turkey burger out there. The secret? Add enough stuff to the meat until it just doesn't smell like meat. Ha. I usually have at least a half dozen or so in the freezer ready to go when I just don't feel like cooking.

And my sweet potato chips.... I'm finally learning to eat hot orange food. I know that sounds wierd, but I've never been able to stomach things like pumpkin related items, anything sweet potato, cooked carrots, etc. But a coworker ordered some sweet potato fries from a take out place that we frequent, dn you know what? They weren't so bad. So I decided to try it out. I made chips, instead of fries, but its all the same in the end.

The Best Turkey Burger
1 egg white or 1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs*
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 ounces 93% lean ground turkey

*If you want to keep the burgers "core", then sub the breadcrumbs for oatmeal and add a dash of a few seasonings like onion powder and dried parsley.

Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Mix ground meat into egg mixture, just until mixed being careful not to overmix (or else you'll wind up with tough burgers).

Shape into 6 patties. Grill or freeze promptly.

WW info: 3 points per burger (does not include bun)


Sweet Potato Chips
1 large sweet potato
olive oil non stick cooking spray
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel potato and slice thin (a mandolin is recommended). Toss in a bowl with seasonings and a few sprays of cooking spray. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Flip chips and continue to bake until crispy (about 10 minutes). Length of time for baking will vary depending on how thin your potato is sliced.

Yields 2 servings.

WW info:
1 point per serving (based on 4 oz of potato)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Japanese-Style Noodle Bowls

Growing up, I hated Chinese food, Japanese food...any Asian-style food really. It's still not my preference, but I'm learning to enjoy it. So when I saw Rachael Ray making noodle bowls with bok choy, I was inspired since: 1. I'm very into soup right now and 2. for some weird reason, bok choy is my husband's favorite veggie of the moment.

And hopefully, your green veggies will be a brighter green than mine since I put them in the pot too early.

non-stick cooking spray
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inches ginger root, grated
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
48 ounces fat-free, low sodium chicken broth 2 tsp sesame oil
12 ounces chicken breast, sliced into 2" strips
9 oz Japanese or Chinese noodles (fresh, not dehydrated)
4 scallions, chopped
1 medium head of bok choy, sliced
6 ounces snow pea pods

Spray a large stock pot with non-stick cooking spray, Add vegetable oil abd heat over medium-heat. Add red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger and mushrooms. Add chicken broth and cover. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken strips and cook until browned. Add chicken to soup pot. Add one ladle's worth of broth to the skillet and deglaze any bits and flavor in the skillet. Add liquid back to the soup pot. Add noodles, bok choy, snow peas and scallions. When adding the noodles, separate them as you add them to the pot so that don't stick together when they cook. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Yields 5 servings.

WW info:
6 points per serving.