Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meatloaf Burgers with Smokey Ketchup and Carmelized Onions

I've been craving meatloaf but it takes so long to bake it! It's a total "Sunday dinner" in my books, meaning Sunday is the only day of the week that I have time to prepare and cook it in time to eat dinner at a decent hour. The idea came to me when I was flipping through an old issue of COoking Light where they had a feature on burgers from around the world. All of a sudden I thought, "Why can't I put all the flavors of meatloaf into a burger size portion?" Ta-da.

So I took my meatloaf recipe and just turned it into burgers, ketchup topping and onions and all.

Carmelized Onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup yellow onions, sliced thin
1 1/2 cup red onions, sliced thin
pinch of sugar

Heat oil over medium heat in a small saute pan. Add onions and cover pan. Cook until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add sugar and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Smokey Ketchup
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 slice of light wheat bread, ground fine (I use a coffee grinder or mini food processor)
20 ounces 93% lean ground beef

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix ingredients from egg through bread. Stir in cooked onions and garlic. Add meat to bowl and mix well with hands. Mixture will be much wetter than a typical burger mixture. Shape meat into 6 equal patties. Grill or broil to desired level of doneness. Serve on a light hamburger bun with smokey ketchup and carmelized onions.

Yields 6 servings.

WW info:
flex - 4 points per burger
core - included
(does not include hamburger bun)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Coq au Vin

I sort of didn't realize when I jumped into this recipe that it wasn't extremely Weight Watchers friendly (especially when served with mashed potatoes, like I did). It could probably be lowered in points by using chicken breasts rather than thighs, but the chicken thighs really add that extra kick of flavor and texture to this dish (that, and I had a package of them in my freezer that were screaming at me to use them every time I opened the freezer).

The original recipe called for a few slices of bacon, and then you cook the chicken in the bacon grease but I don't care for the flavor of bacon (unless its served alongside some eggs or French toast) so that's where I substituted the oil. If you like bacon, then check out the original recipe.

Serve over mashed potatoes to help soak up all the delicious juices.

2 cups red wine
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 (4-ounce) chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup pitted dried plums, quartered
2 bay leaves

Chicken sangria, anyone?

Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl; cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Remove the chicken from marinade, reserving marinade, and pat chicken dry. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour; set aside.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil to a Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add half of chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.

Remove onion and carrot from marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving marinade. Add remaining oil to pot and then add onion and carrot to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in marinade, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add chicken, dried plums, and bay leaves; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender. Discard bay leaves.

Yields 6 servings.

WW info:
core - 2 points per serving
flex - 7 points per serving

It's Peanut Butter Jelly (Muffin) Time!

Growing up, I dreaded the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My mom always sent us to school with them for lunch, and by lunch time the peanut butter and jelly would have made the bread all soggy and the sandwich would have been smushed by everything else my lunch bag. So I'd end up with a PB&J ball.

So now I'm all grown up and there is nothing more than I love than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But there are rules:

  1. The jelly must be strawberry.
  2. The jelly must actually be preserves or jam.
  3. A PB&J sandwich must be accompanied by a glass of ice cold milk.
So as much as I love PB&J, it's not quite Weight Watchers friendly. The peanut butter alone is 4-5 points. Then when you factor in the bread and jam, you're looking at a 10 point sandwich! No thanks! This muffin will satisfy that craving hands down...and at only 3 points each! It is AWESOME.

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Splenda
1/8 cup Splenda brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons light butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, Splenda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Line a 12-muffin tin with muffin/cupcake liners. Fill each cup half full with batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each cup. Spoon remaining batter on top to cover jam. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.

Yields: 12 servings

Source: Cooking Light

WW info: 3 points per muffin

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Neely's BBQ Spaghetti

I've never even seen The Neeley's but someone at work made this and brought in the leftovers. It sounds ghetto, but it was amazing! It was like a distant relative of chicken cacciatore, but with a smokey flavor from the Worcestershire sauce and some kick from the chili powder and cayenne. I'll bet the leftovers will even better tomorrow after the pasta sucks up all the flavors.

BBQ Sauce

1 1/4 cups ketchup
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 tablespoon garlic powder
pinch of chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cooked uncovered, stirring frequently, for 2 hours. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate.

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups bell pepper, chopped (mixed colors or all one color)
1 small yellow onion
2 cups Neely's BBQ sauce (recipe above)
8 ounces chicken, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the pepper and onion, until softened for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the premade BBQ sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add the chicken.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Season liberally with salt and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente and drain. Toss spaghetti with sauce.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
flex - 7 point per serving
core - 1 point per serving (for the sugar)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sweet Potato Chicken Quesadillas

I like Rachael Ray. I know I'm in the minority in most cooking circles, but I like her ideas. I don't like watching her on TV (her abundance of enthusiasm is sometimes like nails on a chalkboard to me) but I love her magazine! I found this idea in there, but I can't even credit her with the idea since it was a recipe submitted a the reader (Sarah Ellis of Columbus, OH...good job!). I tweaked it slightly (the original recipe called for black beans, but it seemed a waste to open a can for just me since my husband doesn't like them....but you should toss them in if you like them).

1 large chicken breast (about 5-6 ounces)
1 teaspoon Southwestern seasoning (like Emeril's)
non-stick cooking spray
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 whole-wheat, low carb wraps (like Cedar's)
1 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

Rub seasoning into chicken. Spray a skillet with cooking spray place over medium heat. Cook chicken until brown and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Chop cooled chicken into small pieces.

In a pot of boiling water, cook the sweet potato until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain, return to the pot, and mash. Spread the potato mash over 2 wraps. Top each with half the chicken, half the cheese and a second wrap.

Heat a skillet over a high heat (or a panini press or Foreman grill). Cook each quesadilla until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Serve with salsa.

Yields 2 servings.

WW info: (if using the wraps described above) core - 2 points flex - 7 points

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


OK! I've been tagged by about 10 people and I was trying to avoid it but now I feel bad. So here are my five fun foodie fashionista facts (say that 5 times fast!). And not to be a Debbie Downer, but I'm ending the line here. I can't think of anyone to tag since everyone has been tagged like 100 times already.

1. I have made a vow to seek out farmers markets in my area come this summer. There is an Amish farm stand down the road from our house which is as close as they get out by us, but I am determined to buy more local and organic produce.

2. I am the BBQer in my house. And I'm OK with that. I love to cook and I love grilling. And I really can't deal with my husband asking every 2 minutes, "Is this done yet?"

3. When we moved into our house 2 years ago, we didn't flatten any of the moving boxes we used. We just piled them up in the basement. We have mountain of boxes thats about 10 feet wide and 5 feet tall. But at least we're ready for the next time we move!

4. I'm secretly loving that Mylie Cyrus song thats on the radio right now. I can't get it out of my head.

5. I'm going to Alaska in May! We just booked our trip this past week. I'm so excited!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Master Baker Challenge: Cinnamon Raisin Bread

My first blog event outside of my comfort zone! The ingredient du jour was cinnamon and I have been staring at a canister of raisins in my pantry for weeks trying to figure out what to do with them other than oatmeal raisin cookies or just eating a handful of them.

This is only my 3rd experience with yeast but my 1st successful one. It smelled amazing while it was baking and it tastes even better! My husband usually gets angry when he sees me baking something that doesn't involve chocolate, but I saw the twinkle in his eye when it bit into the first slice, warm out of the oven.

P.S. I was hoping for a swirl in the middle but I'll work on that for next time. I think the dough just swallowed up my sprinkle of cinnamon. Oh well. It still tastes amazing.

Thanks to Nikki at CrazyDelicious for organizing this blogging challenge. I can't wait for the next one!

1 cup raisins
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups bread flour, divided
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
non-stick cooking spray

Place raisins in a small saucepan, and cover with water; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Drain well.

Heat milk over low heat in a small, heavy saucepan to between 100° and 110°; remove from heat. Add butter to pan; stir until butter melts.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 2 3/4 cups flour, brown sugar, 3/4 tablespoons cinnamon, salt, and yeast in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add warm milk mixture and eggs to flour mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Add raisins. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky). (I did all of the mixing in my stand mixer with a dough hook at low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl down every 2 minutes.)

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Roll dough into a 14 x 7-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Evenly sprinkle remaining cinnamon over the surface of the dough. Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with a short edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Place roll, seam side down, in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Yields 16 slices.

Original recipe
from Cooking Light
WW info: 3 points per slice

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ravioli Madness '08

A few friends and I got together yesterday afternoon fir some good old fashioned ravoli-making fun. We each brought a filling (some brought 2 or 3) and then we made the dough and each brought home 3-4 bags of ravioli.

It's a good thing I don't own a Kitchen Aid, because I don't know how I wouldn't be making fresh pasta 24/7 ( I know I can make it without a Kitchen Aid, but let's face makes about 1000 times easier!)

Some of the combinations we made were:

  • roasted eggplant, roasted garlic, ricotta, and parmesan
  • smoked salmon, cilantro, scallions, and ricotta
  • feta, artichoke, and spinach
  • spinach and about 5 cheeses
  • pumpkin, mozzarella, nutmeg
  • sweet potato, cinnamon, nutmeg, parmesan
  • ricotta, kalamata olives, onions, asiago cheese
  • artichoke, cilantro, and red onion (i cant remember what kind of cheese was in these)
  • portabello mushroom and gorgonzola with balsamic vinegar

Smoked Salmon, Cilantro and Scallions

Kalamata Olives and Scallions

Portobello Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Cheese with Balsamic Vinegar

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chicken with Sage and Carmelized Onions

Well, this was tast-ee. I didn't have tumeric or shallots on hand, but it still came out great. I'm going to have to tweak the ingredients a little more when I make it next because Mr. Finicky (aka my husband) doesn't like cumin. Personally, I wasn't crazy about the flavor myself. I think that a little rosemary would make this dish amazing. Predictable, but amazing. I didn't have shallots, but I added a handful of mushrooms instead. Not quite a similar ingredient, but it added another level of flavor.

Link to original recipe

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Mr. Goodbar Cookies)

I yelled at my cookies. It's mean but they deserved it. This is about the umpteenth time that I have baked cookies AND THEY DIDN'T SPREAD! Is it because I used parchment paper? It was my first time ever using it, and I'm confused because I thought it served the same purpose as a Silpat, right? Which you can use with any cookie recipe, right? Is it my cookie sheets? Argh.

But they did come out miiiighty tasty. I think the old "smush with the bottom of a glass" technique will be employed the next time I make this recipe. Which I will.

Adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together with an electric mixer on a high speed. Add in the egg and vanilla; beat until fluffy. With the mixer on a low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto the baking sheets, forming 24 cookies total. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, press down on each dough ball. Then using a fork, create criss-cross marks across the top of each cookie. Bake for 12–15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Yields 24 cookies.

WW info: 2 points per cookie.

White Bean Garlic Dip

Move over hummus. White Bean Garlic Dip is moving in. I found this recipe in my Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. It is AWESOME! I'm slightly obssessed with cannellini beans ever since I discovered them for my Tuscan Bean Soup, but my problem is that I don't like chewing on beans. The texture is not my bag, but I like them all mushed up. Black beans? Yuck. Refried beans? Yes, please. Chick peas? Blech. Hummus or falafel? Yum.

6 large garlic cloves
1 (15 ounce) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Place 4 garlic cloves in the center of a small square of foil and tent foil over cloves to create a pouch. Roast cloves for about 30 minutes. Unwrap foil and allow cloves to cool.

Squeeze the garlic from the skins into the bowl of a food processor. Add remaining 2 cloves of garlic, beans, lemon juice, salt and olive oil; puree. Stir in half the chopped red pepper and transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with remaining red pepper and parsley to serve.

Yields 1 1/2 cups.

WW info:
core - included
flex - 2 points per 1/4 cup serving.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Garlic Pork with Vegetables and Noodles

Its a cold, rainy night here in Massachusetts and all I wanted was something healthy. Since the options were order in greasy take-out pizza or Chinese, or get in the car and drive through a monsoon to the supermarket for more food, I decided I would actually make use of what I had in the ol' pantry.

Not too shabby for a girl who claims to hate food of the Asian genre

And P.S. ... this dish isn't as garlicky as the title implies. I mean, there is quite a bit of garlic in it, but it's not so bad. Actually, the title was lacking in adjectives before I added it on.

Stir Fry Sauce

1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teapsoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teapsoon cornstarch

Pork Marinade
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic

12 ounces pork tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into small strips
8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti (or other thin noodles)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup haricot verts
1/4 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

Mix stir fry ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside. In a larger bowl, mix 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic. Add in pork and toss until well coated by the marinade; marinate for 15 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta as directed on package.

Spray a wok with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add marinated pork and cook until cooked on the outside. Transfer the pork to a plate and tent with foil. Add mushrooms and minced garlic and cok for 3-4 minutes. Add broccoli, peas, pepper, and green beans. Pour stir fry sauce over vegetables and cover wok tightly. Cook for 5 minutes. Add semi-cooked pork to mixture, fresh ginger, and scallions. Toss well and cover tightly, cooking until pork is cooked through. Add cooked pasta and toss.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
core - 1 point (all included if canola oil is subbed for sesame oil)
flex - 7 points