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