Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pork with Pomegranate Glaze and Wild Rice Pilaf

Pork with Pomegranate Glaze

A few weeks ago, I was actually snowed in. Hard to believe now that it's 50 degrees outside in December. But it snowed enough that my tires wouldn't go in the snow. The light would turn green, I would carefully hit it gas pedal, and my tires would only spin and slide around.?

Fed up, I had my dad take me to the grocery store in my parents' SUV. I decided to make Pork with Pomegranate Glaze because I had pomegranate juice in the fridge and dried cherries to make a rice pilaf.

Of course, the grocery store was a nightmare--everyone grabbing food as if it was a frigging blizzard. So, there wasn't a pork tenderloin to be had. I picked the thickest, leanest pork I could find that I felt would hold up to roasting in the oven.

In the end, the pork wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped. It would have been better if you had seared the pork in the pan, put the pan with the pork in the oven to roast and then used the pan juices to make a pomegranate pan sauce. At least I think so.

The rice was great. It definitely made the meal. Dried cherries in rice might sound odd, but the cherries plump up nicely and the sweet goes well with the savory.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Cherries
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 box of wild rice pilaf (such as Uncle Ben's), seasoning packet discarded
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted pecans

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and saute 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in dried cherries, cover and cook 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and pecans.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Turkey and Sausage Paella

Turkey and Sausage Paella

It has been a while since I've had a chance to post. Honestly, I haven't even had much time to cook. I was out of town with job #1, then I had Christmas errands and job #2 to worry about. Then, I found out I got a new job and the past few weeks have been trying to get things wrapped up at old job #1 and getting things ready for the new one.

The good news is that I have quit job #2 altogether. Now that I'll only have one job, I'll have more time to eat healthfully, exercise, and of course, post.

Above, is a turkey sausage paella I made from a Cooking Light recipe. Of course, it looks nothing like the photo, but it's really good, and a great use for leftover cooked turkey or chicken. If you can't find spanish chorizo (precooked kind) you can use a smoked turkey sausage as a substitute.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gnocchi and Spinach Bake

Gnocchi and Spinach Bake

I apologize for not posting reguarly. To say life has been busy is an understatement.

Lately, I've cooked very little and well, when I do it's nothing to write home about. Job #1 and Job#2 are both insane. And my to-do list is almost three pages. To make matters worse, I'm taking off for a business trip on December 3. Conference food and room service. I can hardly wait.

So, I'll do my best to be better. Next week I have a couple of things planned. I'm hoping to have time to follow through.

In the meantime, here's the Gnocchi and Spinach Bake I made a few weeks ago for the boyfriend and I. It's hard to make an actual assessment of the recipe. I didn't make the gnocchi out of ricotta. I used frozen potato gnocchi instead. Oh, and I forgot to season it. Oops. The boyfriend still like it, though.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bacon Rice Bowl

Bacon Rice Bowl

In my attempts to eat Core (it lasted only two weeks by the way), I found this recipe for a Bacon Rice Bowl. It sounded decent enough, in theory. And it was Core if you cut back on the oil and used brown rice. But it was a lot like a half-cooked tabbouleh. Not my favorite thing ever. The tomatoes and bacon were good, though. I left out the lentils, but I doubt they would have helped.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Corn Cakes with Apples and Sausage

Corn Cakes with Apples and Sausage

A few weekends ago, I tried to make my own sausage. Healthier sausage. I used Penzey's sausage spice, but added it into ground turkey. The sausage tasted like sausage, but note to the wise: Extra lean ground turkey breast does not a good sausage make. I knew this much, of course. Fat=tasty. In just about every instance I can think of. But fat does not look so great when I'm wearing it. And I was attempting to do Core, and sausage is not Core.

The Corn Cakes with Apples came out to 11 points, so I was looking to lighten the point load by making my own bulk sausage using Core ingredients. I later learned that regular lean ground turkey is also Core, which would have made a much better sausage, although maybe still not a good sausage.

The actually corn cakes were good. The apples were just, eh. If you wanted to make the corn cakes core, you could just fry up some polenta in canola oil. Tasted just about the same, actually. But I think I'd just spend the points on the pancake variety, truthfully.

A decent enough breakfast, but not my best.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Barley-Mushroom Soup

Barley-Mushroom Soup

It has gotten really cold really quick. I actually broke down last night and turned on the heat because my thermostat was showing that it was below 65° in my apartment. Probably less in the bedroom and living room because of the heat zapping windows.

The Mushroom-Barley Soup was one of my better ideas this month. Cold winds and sleet=soup weather. And barley is a fiberlicious grain. that fills me up at lunchtime. About 1 cup of pearl barley cooked gives you 3.5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. Less protein that brown rice but it has nearly double the fiber. The recipe is Core, so I really didn't need to mess with it, but I did, of course. I added two cups of shredded rotisserie chicken just for some more bulk. And I added more veggies, too. Yum. Veggies.

It's best the day you make it, though. The barley tends to absorb the liquid making it less of a soup and more of a stew. Tasted great to me anyhow.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Penne Pumpkin Pasta

Penne Pumpkin Pasta

Every Thursday I don't work is a stay-in date night for the boyfriend and I. Because I work two jobs, it's hard to find time for a romantic evening of sorts. I save my points for date night in and I make a full fat and calorie recipe without changing a thing. And, we open a bottle of wine.

Last week's date night featured Penne Pumpkin Pasta and a bottle of Chianti. I also made a green salad with a basic vinaigrette. The pasta was great. The sage and the pumpkin was an awesome marriage of flavors and the chicken broth added an extra layer without being chicken-y tasting. And surprisingly the cinnamon and nutmeg weren't overwhelming. I used a 100% whole wheat penne, but I would definitely do a whole wheat blend or even use regular pasta. The 100% whole wheat was too "crunchy" almost. I guess crunchy implies that it was undercooked, but it wasn't that kind of crunchy. Maybe chewy? I'm not sure how to describe it other than to say it probably wasn't the best choice on my part.

Otherwise I will be making it again. It's actually mostly Core. You'd really only have to count points for the cream if you didn't use regular parm. Of course, you could use FF parm, but I'm against it, so I spent the points to make it worthwhile. YUM.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Broiled Salmon with Parmesan Grits

Broiled Salmon with Parmesan Grits

Grits are something I've never thought to try. I'm not even sure I knew what they were before I had them. I thought it was like a hot cereal like cream of rice or cream of wheat. But earlier this year when I tried Core for the first time, I had to be more creative with what grains I cooked. Grits was one of the first that I tried.

And let me tell you, when mixed with parmesan and mushrooms... YUM. The salmon in this dish isn't bad, either, but those grits are a standout. I spent the point to use real Parmigiano Reggiano. It was well worth it.

If you're looking for new grains to try or just love salmon, I would definitely suggest the Broiled Salmon with Parmesan Grits.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hummus Sesame Noodles

Hummus Sesame Noodles

It seems like every time I make hummus, I end up with a lot more than I can humanly eat. It just doesn't have the abuse potential that, oh, say a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie or a potato chip has (salt and pepper chips are my favorite, in case you were wondering). Maybe there's someone who might sit there with a giant bowl of garlicky hummus, shoveling it in with a spoon — I'm not like that, though.

So what I'm left with is a couple cups of hummus that languishes in the back of my fridge until I'm motivated enough to toss it out. Usually two weeks or so after I originally made it. It will go to waste. I am not like my friend who wondered if she could scrape of the top and eat the hummus that was past its prime. It was commercially-made hummus, but STILL. Yuck.

I've tried to think of ways to repurpose it, but I'm not the most creative cook on the block, and winging it rarely works out. Unless my goal was to produce something inedible in the first place.

Lucky for me, Rachael Ray seems to be one step ahead. She included an entire feature on cooking with hummus in her magazine. It's based on the theory that you buy your hummus, but whatever. Those in the know, know better.

The Hummus Sesame Noodles looked pretty good, so I made them on Monday night. Of course, I made some changes. I blanched the snow peas because I don't like the taste of raw peas, added crushed red pepper to the sauce, and used 100% whole wheat spaghetti to make it closer to Core. I've switched WW plans again.

And you know, it wasn't too bad. And it didn't taste much like hummus. Mostly just like peanuts. If I hadn't been the one to make it, I would have probably assumed it was peanut butter. I can't say it'll be like that with premade hummus, but that's how it came out for me. Now next time I've got some leftover hummus, I'll know how to use it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Black Bean Tostadas

Black Bean Tostadas

Sometimes, I really crave hot lunches. And I'm not talking leftovers from the night before. I want something made right before I eat it. I've gotten used to leftovers, but it rarely tastes as good as when I first made it. Plus, cooking relaxes me, and there are just days I need to get away from work. Today was one of those days. Probably because I had a case of the Mondays.

Luckily, I go home for lunch every day. This afternoon I was working from a recipe in theory. Only, I was missing two ingredients, and didn't really pay much attention to the directions. It still tasted fine. Corn, grape tomatoes, jalapenos, and red onion over black beans on a 6-inch (taco sized) flour tortilla with just a smidge of Monterey Jack cheese and a dollop of light sour cream. Not the fanciest of meals, but it was a perfect lunch with an apple on the side.

Black Bean Tostadas
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
1/4 small red onion
2 tsp olive oil
lime juice, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup black beans
1 small flour tortilla (6-inch)
2 tbsp shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 475. In a small bowl, combine corn, tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, oil, lime juice salt and pepper.

Brush tortilla with oil (or spray it with olive oil like I did) and top with black beans, part of the corn salsa, and the cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are crispy.

Serve with sour cream and leftover salsa on the side.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bourbon Fudge Brownie

 Bourbon Fudge Brownies

These are lethal brownies. Lethal to any healthy eating plan, that is. Sure, they're low fat brownies. Sure, they even qualify low calorie brownie, especially considering some of the regular versions with excess sugar and butter and what not.

The problem with the Bourbon Fudge Brownies is that you can't eat just one. At 3 pts. a piece, it really is a bargain — especially for a homebaked brownie made from scratch. They certainly aren't a No Pudge. And they don't have artificial sweeteners, so there's none of that yuck factor.

What they do have, on the other hand, is bourbon. Sweet, sweet booze. And booze makes just about everything taste better. (Unless you're drinking a beer and eating cake. That's not recommended.) If you're strong willed or maybe (like me last week) just don't give a damn, I suggest you give these a try and let me know what you think.

I bet you'll eat an entire row of them straight out of the oven.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pork with Applesauce

Pork with Applesauce

Fall is definitely my favorite time of year. Not only mean pumpkin, but also my next favorite fall food — apples. This week I made my first applesauce. Not bad for a first try. Very appley.

It was a part of the Rachael Ray recipe, Pork Chops & Applesauce. I didn't have pork chops, but had a tenderloin chilling in the freezer, so I used the glaze she suggested and browned it, then roasted in the oven along side the potatoes and green beans. I think the pork was good on its own, and the applesauce was good on its own, but eaten together, they just didn't quite work.

On the other hand, the meal was very points-friendly. If you cut the oil on the potatoes and don't really add any extra oil to the green beans, it should come out to be about 8 pts., which is a good number for dinner.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dark Beer and Beef Chili

Dark Beer and Beef Chili

I once had a friend refer to chili as the modern day goulash. You could add all kinds of things and it will still be good. Beer, chocolate, corn — it all pretty much works. Well, not always. I have made a couple of really bad batches of chili. I don't have a favorite chili yet. One that I make so often and serve to others so many times it becomes "my" chili.

The Dark Beer and Beef Chili is the next attempt at finding "my" chili. To make it healthier, I used half ground sirloin and half extra lean ground turkey. The turkey took on the flavors of the sirloin, and I honestly don't think anyone would be able to tell the difference between the two. All mixed in, they even looked like they were the same shade.

It looks like a really good chili. But it wasn't quite great. I don't know if I don't like the beer part or the chipotle chili that was added to it that I didn't love. Maybe it was just that it was the darkness of the beer. I just can't put my finger on it.

I guess I'll keep trying.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chicken with Apple Gravy

chicken with apple gravy

While I sometimes feel like a competent cook, there are some things—really basic things—that I'm really not very good at. Omelets for example, just aren't my thing. I have yet to make one really good looking omelet. They taste great, but they're nothing like they should be. They fall a part and become scrambled eggs with a side of chopped ham and melted cheese.

Gravies are another basic cooking technique, I guess you could say, that I just can't do. In the past they were flavorless and lumpy. This time it was a little thin. And the recipe never tells me how to fix a thin gravy. Add more flour? Seems reasonable, but I'm afraid that after a while it's just going to taste like paste.

I watch Rachael Ray make them on TV and it looks so simple, and they always come out perfect. But I use her recipe, and not so much. What's the deal with that? For what it's worth, I made an apple gravy using the Chicken with Apple Gravy, Rice Pilaf and Green Beans recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray. The gravy was thin when I made it, but it tasted really good.

Of course, to make things healthier I used light butter on the green beans and cut back on the oil and the cheese. Overall, pretty good, but my gravy will need some work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Colorful Vegetable Lasagna

Colorful Vegetable Lasagna

I'm often asked how I manage to cook when I'm so busy. It's because I take my nights off to cook something with a lot of servings, like this Colorful Vegetable Lasagna from Cooking Light. It made enough servings that I could eat some and even freeze some for later if I wanted. Lasagna generally isn't a weeknight kind of food, but you can make it on the weekend and it reheats well. I ended up eating it twice a day for four days and I *almost* didn't mind. But it did get kind of old.

I liked it, but didn't love it. I'd be tempted to add some turkey sausage or lean ground beef and try a different marinara. I was just expecting stronger flavors and the tomato sauce was no better than some of the stuff I get out of the jar.

In the end, I think it's worth some tinkering.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Whole Wheat Pasta Arrabbiata with Arugula

Last week I tried another Rachael Ray recipe. This time I tried Whole Wheat Pasta Arrabbiata with Arugula. The sauce on the pasta wasn't a thick tomato sauce, but a thinner one. It had chunks of canned diced tomatoes and a healthy helping of spice. So much so that I was almost overwhelming.

The arugula was a good addition, not only is it good to have a green veggie, but the arugula was less bitter when wilted down than spinach, which is usually the leafy green of choice.

Overall, nothing too spectacular, but a good meal if you're looking to cook from the pantry.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

A few weeks ago I was watching Barefoot Contessa. Usually, she makes things with two sticks of butter. This show wasn't really an exception to the rule. But not all of it was butter-laden. The Mexican Chicken Soup was actually good for you, with only 4 points for a generous one and a half cup serving.

I wouldn't describe the soup as exceptional. It's a good twist on a classic. Simple, low in points — it's a warming meal for the crisp weather that we've been getting.

On the side was my attempt at a cheddar jalapeno corn muffin. She made a jalapeno cheddar cornbread that looked to die for. But with a stick of butter and extra sharp white cheddar, it wasn't exactly low in points. To save time I tried to use a corn muffin mix and add 2% sharp cheddar cheese and jalapeno. It didn't work. It was a good try, but not only were they still 5 pts a piece, they really weren't worth it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Brats and Sauerkraut

Brats and Sauerkraut

This meal is pretty self explanatory. It's bratwurst that I put in the Crockpot, covered in a giant can of sauerkraut, and then let sit on low for 8 hours. Then, I put it on a New England-style split top hot dog bun, added spicy brown mustard and enjoyed with a heaping pile o' mashed potatoes.

It's been a long, stressful week and this was *exactly* the kind of dinner I was looking forward to coming home to. And it took zero prep. Besides pinching my nose when dumping the kraut into the crock at 8 a.m., of course. It's a bit stinky to take in first thing in the morning.

Otherwise, it's one of my favorite zero fuss meals. Although brats aren't the healthiest proteins for you, at 200 calories, they aren't as high in points as you might expect, and if eaten only occasionally, won't kill you. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pumpkin Risotto

Risotto is the ultimate comfort food. Nothing is better than creamy rice cooked in chicken stock. But the Pumpkin Risotto probably isn't what you would expect. Most of the time pumpkin is used in recipes it's a sweet recipe. Cakes, breads, pancakes, etc. But in this dish, pumpkin shines in a savory role.

This recipe may be 9 pts per serving, but it's a generous serving of slightly more than a cup. Plus, with the fiberlicious pumpkin, it's a fairly filling meal. And on a rainy dreary evening like tonight, it was the perfect dish.

A few notes: The originally recipe calls for 2 tbsp of oil and a cup of cheese, both of which I cut significantly. It also calls for a 1/4 tsp of red pepper. If you like spicy food, put in the full amount. If you are a little spice shy, I would use no more than 1/8 tsp. It has quite a bit of heat as orginally written.

Pumpkin Risotto
1 3/4 cup uncooked arborio rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup Riesling or another sweet white wine
4 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (15 oz. can)
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse the rice in a mesh strainer and drain.

In a large skillet, combine the oil, butter and onion. Saute over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until well-coated with oil and butter. Increase heat to medium-high and add the wine. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.

Begin to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more liquid as it is absorbed. Once the rice has absorbed all the broth, reduce heat to medium-low. Taste to check the texture. The rice should be firm, but cooked through. If the rice is too hard or dry, add additional broth, 1/2 cup at a time.

When the rice reaches the desired texture, stir in the pumpkin, ginger and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chicken and Green Beans in White Wine Sauce

Chicken an d Green Beans in White Wine Sauce

One thing I like about Cooking Light is that it always offers a section with full menus. The Chicken with Asparagus and White Wine Sauce was one of them in the October issue. But being budget conscious, I decided to change things a bit.

Although I love asparagus, it's pricey, so I swapped out green beans. And, I had yukon gold potatoes and needed an oil serving so I roasted the potatoes instead of mashing them.

The chicken was really good. I even liked the sauce. But the green beans weren't all that great. Even though the recipe said you could swap green beans for the asparagus, the green beans didn't get tender enough. Even after much longer than the recipe suggested. I will make the chicken part again, but I think I'll skip the green beans.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pan-Roasted Fish with Burst Tomatoes and Chive Gnocchi

Pan-Roasted Fish with Burst Tomatoes and Chive Gnocchi

They say fish is good for you, so despite the cost I'm trying to eat more of it. And the recipe for Pan-Roasted Fish with Burst Tomatoes and Chive Gnocchi in Everyday with Rachael Ray looked good. I love roasted grape tomatoes and I've never had frozen gnocchi, but wanted to try it because I don't have the time or even a potato masher and I definitely don't have a food mill.

It was all pretty good. The tomatoes were the best part. Roasted in olive oil, garlic and shallots, you couldn't really go wrong there. The gnocchi was good, but homemade is most definitely better. But in a time crunch the frozen will do just fine. And if you don't like fish, this would work well with chicken, too.

Of course, I cut the butter and oil A LOT. Five tablespoons of oil is just not needed. I halved the recipe so I only used a 1/2 tbsp of oil for the tomatoes and 1 tsp of oil and olive oil spray to cook the fish. I cut the butter down to a tablespoon for two servings.

Overall it's pretty tasty. As much as foodies bitch and moan about Rachael Ray, I still like her recipes for the most part and this one in another I'll probably make some variation of some other time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Little Italy Chicken Pitas with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Little Italy Chicken Pitas with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

I'm not sure why these were so well rated on Cooking Light's Web site. The Little Italy Chicken Pitas were just OK. Nothing special. In fact, they were almost plain tasting.

The vinaigrette was really good, if not a little garlicky. But when you put it all together it just isn't that great. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Zucchini, Ham, and Potato Soup

I'm not sure why I tried this soup. My last attempt at a Rachael Ray soup was not the best one out there. But I'm glad I did. This may not look like much (the picture in the magazine really isn't much more appealing!), but it's a homey, comforting soup perfect for the fall. And because you puree some of the veggies, it's creamy and filling. By my calculations it was 4 pts for a generous cup and a half or so of soup, which is, of course, even better.

The Zucchini, Ham and Potato Soup tastes something like a cross between a cream of potato soup and a ham and bean soup but without the cream and beans, of course. And the zucchini gets really tender and melds into the soup perfectly. I was so sure about having chunks of squash in my soup, but I was pleasantly surprised. And I'm not even a huge fan of dill, but I liked it here. There's just a hint.

Now, it's not what I'd call a super flavorful soup. It's almost on the bland side. But it's the good kind of bland. If there is such a thing. Maybe bland isn't the right word. Maybe it's *ordinary*. Good ordinary like a chicken noodle soup or a vegetable stew. Either way, it's probably a make again.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Classic Roast Chicken

classic roast chicken

Nothing is simpler than roast chicken. It's my standby for a busy week. If you've got a spare hour and a half, roast one up and you've got leftovers for the week. If you won't get through it, you can freeze it and use it later.

My favorite recipe so far is the Classic Roast Chicken from Cooking Light. I've noticed that some regular recipes only call for seasoning the skin. But this lightened recipe puts butter and dried herbs under the skin, thus seasoning the meat. For good measure, I rubbed some of the leftover butter/herb combo on the skin. My trick to juicey roasts every time is to use an oven bag, then let the meat rest, of course. Never fails.

Cooked chicken goes in a zillion things. You can make enchiladas, tacos, sandwiches or wraps, soups, or even stirfrys. You're only limited by your imagination. This week I'm working about 65 hours (they dropped a shift from my schedule at my begging) so I'm using it for chicken salad pitas.

Although sometimes I eat the chicken plain—right off the bird. Because it's just that good.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pumpkin Pancakes

I love pancakes. There's just something about their fluffy deliciousness. And I haven't met a pancake that I didn't enjoy, even if it's just a little. I've made multi-grain, blueberry, plain, even ones made mostly of ricotta.

Ohio is in the middle of a cool snap right now. It's not cold enough to bust out the dutch oven and braise short ribs, but cold enough that I start craving fall foods. And my favorite fall food is pumpkin. I love pumpkin so much I have pumpkin scented candles, I stir pumpkin puree into my oatmeal, and I even make a really awesome pumpkin risotto. So why not combine my two loves and make Pumpkin Pancakes?

These pancakes were awesome. A little more dense than your average pancake, but really wonderful anyhow. Because they were more dense they really stick to your ribs. Perfect for brunch on a crisp afternoon like today. I topped the pancakes with toasted pecans and warm syrup.

Bottom line: I suggest you make these pancakes ASAP. But do the pancakes—and yourself—a favor and don't drown them in sugar free pancake syrup. Respect them enough to use only the real deal.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sizzling Steak Fajitas

Flank steak is a tough meat to cook — and sometimes — a tough meat to chew. If it's not sliced diagonally across the grain or it's over cooked. Forget it. You'll need razor blades for teeth to get through that meal.

I've had mixed results with flank steak in the past. Take this spinach and steak mistake. The Flank Steak Fajitas with Garden Vegetables was good, but I guess this time I around I was looking for less veggies. I love vegetables, but I'm not sure squash had a place in my fajitas. Oh, and I overcooked the steak.

Luckily, I didn't need the teeth as sharp as daggers this time. The Sizzling Steak Fajitas weren't what I'd call sizzling, but they were closer to what I am looking for in a fajita. The flavor was bland when I tasted it as I was cooking. It needed a lot more salt for one. But once I added the green salsa and rolled it up in the whole wheat tortilla they were *much* better.

I'm going to try this again. Except next time I'll take a hint from a local, cheap Mexican food joint and add some spicy chorizo to the mix. They may be more than the 7 pts. they were tonight, but they'll be tasty. And if I get the cast iron pan I want so badly for my birthday — watch out. I'll be a fajita making fiend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shrimp Fattoush

This salad is a great way to get in your daily oils. The salad is fresh and quick and because the acid in the dressing lemon juice, it's really refreshing. It makes a satisfying lunch or light dinner. This is something I'll definitely make again.

A few notes, though. I left out the mint because I'm not the hugest fan. I also used whole wheat pitas instead of the more traditional white ones. I add fiber where I can. Lastly, I upped the amount of lettuce. The salad didn't seem too substantial without a little something more. But here's the recipe as written. It comes out to be about 8 pts per serving. It's from the Columbus Dispatch.

Shrimp Fattoush
2 pita breads
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cucumber, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

To make salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake pita bread until toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Break into 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until pink and just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Combine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and mint in a large bowl.

To make dressing: Whisk lemon juice, olive oil andgarlic until well-blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a couple of spoonfuls of dressing to shrimp. Toss to coat. Add remaining dressing to salad. Toss to coat. Add pita pieces and toss. Divide among 4 plates. Top with shrimp and serve.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread

Here's another example of a high-fat recipe that is easily modified and still tastes just about the way it does when it's made as directed. The Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread clocked in at 9 pts per 6 servings as written. Once I changed a few things, it was more like 8 pts for 4 servings (which trust me, isn't a huge piece).

First of all, I watched the amount of oil I used. Second, I bought the Alloutte Light Garlic and Herb cheese instead of the regular. Finally, I cut the amount of parmesan *drastically*. Parmesan is a stronger cheese that you can use less of of and still get the flavor. And last time I made it I don't recall tasting much of the parmesan through all of the garlic and herb anyhow. So you aren't missing much.

What I like most about this recipe is that it doesn't use many weird ingredients and, of course, with most of my weeknight cooking, it's done in about 30 minutes or less. Plus, its pizza-esque. And who doesn't like pizza?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gorgonzola Topped Pork Tenderloin

Gorgonzola Topped Pork Tenderloin

This meal is a bang for your points buck if you ask me. At 4 points per serving (without the mashed potatoes or asparagus) you just can't beat the Gorgonzola Topped Pork Tenderloin. Red wine and blue cheese? YUM. This meal exemplifies my Weight Watchers point of view. You can eat indulgent foods (like pork covered in gorgonzola cheese and red wine) and still stay well within your points target.

It's easy enough for everyday cooking. The entire meal took less than 30 minutes to prepare. But it's fancy enough to serve if you're having company.

It's also good over polenta. I ate mine with creamy parmesan polenta (1/2 cup quick cooking polenta stirred into 3/4 cup chicken stock and 3/4 cup skim milk. Stir in 1/4 cup parmesan at the end). Overall, a delicious meal I will most certainly make again.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Herbed Basmati Rice

Herbed Basmati Rice

Sunday's dinner got off to a rough start. I came home from a long day at work and an hour-long weights session at the gym to find that my chicken in the crockpot wasn't holding at warm. It was cold. I immediately blamed DBF for not setting the timer right. But it turned out that we had a power outtage, which reset the entire thing. Turns out the chicken was cooked through, so we took our chances. I served it with Herbed Basmati Rice and Roasted Green Beans.

I apologize for the terrible photo. I really need to find a lighting solution because it's getting darker sooner in the evening. And natural light seems to be the best. The flash just ruins things. And it didn't help that the meal was kind of bland looking.

But it was good, I swear. I had DBF help make the rice and he over peppered it, but otherwise delish. It was a simple way to dress up plain rice and elevate it as a side dish. It's a little high in points at 4 pts per 2/3 cup, but I would say its worth it. Besides, the rice is cooked in stock, which is the best way to eat rice in my opinion.

The rest of the week is up in the air. Tomorrow will probably be meatball subs. Saturday I'll post the week ahead because I actually have a plan for next week. Lots of good food planned. And the Endamame Hummus made it back into the menu. Maybe I'll actually make it. Or maybe not.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Green Tea Ice Cream

Green Tea Ice Cream

I don't always eat perfectly OP. I try, I really do, but sometimes I'm scanning a cookbook or a food blog and I come across something and crave it for weeks on end. Real ice cream was one of those things. I occasionally read the food blog Chocolate & Zucchini. A few posts ago she made ice cream and mentioned The Perfect Scoop. I decided I had to check out the book and it didn't disappoint.

I decided to make the green tea ice cream and set DBF out on a matcha green tea finding mission. I found matcha green tea lattes and other liquid forms, but I needed the powder. Finally, about four stores later DBF stopped in an Asian market and after confusing the poor clerk by spelling matcha with a "t" (apparently she's only ever seen it spelled macha?) and after hearing her life's story, he found green tea powder.

Luckily, the ice cream was perfectly creamy and addicting. I don't even want to think about how much we consumed. And at 9 pts. per half a cup, you'd better have some serious WPA or AP for this. Or, as I figured last week when I made it... I don't really care.

My advice, if you choose to make full fat ice cream, is to pick a strong flavor that pairs well with a lower point dessert and have just a little teeny tiny bit. And then give the rest of it away before you get into it and eat it like a madwoman. The other suggestion, eat it when you're full. Beware of eating tasty high fat treats when hungry. Then end result isn't pretty.

I'm not posting the recipe b/c I didn't change it enough to feel comfortable posting it. E-mail me if you want to spend copious amounts of points you probably don't have. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Creamy Harvest Corn "Choup"

Creamy Harvest Corn Choup

I'm guessing that in Rachael Ray-speak "choup" stands for a soup that is kind of like a chowder. I wasn't too impressed by the Creamy Harvest Corn "Choup," though. I've tried several of her recipes and like them. But I found this to be bland. Each serving was about 9 pts. But my pot came out as having almost 2 cups a serving. And it was 9 pts. *after* I cut 9 pts.

The recipe called for 2 tbsp oil, 4 slices of bacon, and 1 cup heavy cream. I cut the oil down to 2 tsp, cut the bacon down to 2 slices and swapped the cream for half and half. I used skim milk, but I would suggest using 1% maybe. That might keep it from looking all separated like. Maybe. The one thing this recipe had going for it was the veggies. I tossed in extra red pepper and almost twice the zucchini. So I definitely upped the veggie servings.

I guess I would make this one again if I had half and half and potatoes to use up (like I did this time), but otherwise I'd probaby just skip it. Too many points and too light on flavor.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Egg Fried Rice with Chicken and Broccoli in Garlic Sauce

Egg Fried Rice

No matter how hard I try, Chinese food never tastes as good at home as it does in the take out places. I know I've said this before, but it's true. My latest attempt at fried rice was no different. It was good, don't get me wrong. But it was a bit on the bland side. And it certainly wasn't takeout quality fried rice. I might tinker with it though. The recipe started out as Egg Fried Rice from Gourmet magazine, but I ended up cutting the oil, changing the peas to peas and carrots and adding low sodium soy sauce.

The stirfry in the back was a version of a WW recipe, Chicken with Broccoli and Garlic Sauce. It wasn't pretty, so I tried disguise it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blackened Shrimp with Monterey Jack, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Blackened Shrimp with Monterey Jack, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes on the planet. You could make risotto out of anything and it would probably taste good. There's just something comforting and delicious about creamy rice. I have a couple of all time favorites. I make an awesome Pumpkin Risotto, which I got out of the newspaper, believe it or not, and this Monterey Jack, Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto is another that I make frequently.

I wanted a protein source with this, though. A few weeks ago DBF and I went out to the Burgundy Room, and I had corn dusted scallops over midnight blue risotto with bacon, corn, corn and tomatoes. So thinking along those lines, I thought shrimp would be a nice touch. I had a recipe for Spicy Seasoning that makes a good blackening spice mixture for chicken. It's a bit too spicy for the shrimp, I think. So it could use a little tinkering, but otherwise a spice-rubbed shrimp over the risotto was a good idea. Maybe a cumin/coriander mixture as I used in the risotto itself would have been more appropriate. Or, that could have been too much of a good thing. Hard to say.

I will make this again and keep trying for perfect spice rub. But even if you don't serve it with shrimp. I highly suggest you try this risotto sometime. It's 8 points per cup, but could just as easily pair with a nice salad as a main or some chicken as a side.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spicy Hash Browns

Spicy Hash Browns

Ever since I was a child, I've had a love affair with Bob Evans hash browns. If a meal came with french fries, forget it. I subsituted for the hash browns. The burnt ones were the best, and if dinner time, a side of ketchup was in order.

Unfortunately, hash browns aren't always the healthiest. Plus, parboiling and frying in oil is time consuming and labor intensive. The bagged shredded are faster, but still unhealthy. Plus, I always prefered the cubed variety that I ordered at Bob Evans.

Spicy Hash Browns from Cooking Light are my new hash browns of choice. They're roasted, which makes them healthier and much less labor intensive. Just cube them up toss in oil and the seasonings and toss into a hot oven. They still take some time, but I think it's worth it. If you have a weak stomach in the morning, though, they might not be for you. They've got quite a kick to them. But for a weekend brunch with runny eggs and bacon... they're perfect.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The CO80s Meetup

I should have posted about this on Sunday when I got back, but I was super tired and really hungover. I still haven't made that endamame hummus, so might as well post it today.

Of course, none of these girls look like they really need Weight Watchers, myself included. Although a couple of them have made lifetime. So it's hard to say. Everyone was as nice as I anticipated them being and it was nice to see the girls again I've already met.

If you haven't lurked on the WW boards and found us, you're missing out. They're probably the best group I've found, and I've posted for close to 2 years. Doesn't seem like it's been that long.

And in true WW fashion we ate and drank ourselves stupid (Notice how I put on my drunkest face) and, well, I got very little exercise. An all around awesome weekend. I can't wait until next year.

Barbecued Chicken Thighs with Brown Sugar-Hickory Sauce

Last night I made barbecued chicken thighs with brown sugar-hickory sauce. I absolutely loved this sauce. I honestly ate it by the spoonful. I could probably eat this chicken every day of the week. I didn't even mind that I had to do the chicken on the grill pan. It would have been phenomenal on the grill, though.

The sides were just OK. I may make the coleslaw again, but I prefer a mayo based potato salad. Both sides are adapted from Everyday Food.

1/2 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper
1 bag of Dole classic coleslaw mix (16 ounce bag)
2 medium green onions, minced

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo through the salt and pepper. Add cabbage mix and green onions; toss to coat.

Let stand at least 15 minutes at room temperature before serving or refridgerate up to one day.

New Potato Salad
1 1/2 pounds red skinned potatoes, sliced
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup tarragon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place sliced potatoes in a steamer basket set over boiling water. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and steam for 10-12 minutes until tender.

Toss hot potatoes with zest and juice. Refridgerate until cool, about an hour.

Add herbs and oil to the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Refridgerate salad up to one day and bring to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Last night's meal was a lesson in taking a recipe that's calorie-packed and drastically slashing the calories. The Summer Garden Tortelloni originally needed major rehab. And once I ran it through the nutrition calculator, I found it needed even more. Originally, the recipe had cheese tortellini, which is about 300 some calories per cup. So, I cut about 100 calories by using a cheese-less pasta. It also called for 1/2 a stick of butter and I used 2 tbsp instead. You could probably cut more though. It also should have had prosciutto, which I didn't have. Adding it probably wouldn't have contributed too many points.

Overall, I liked the recipe. Definitely use fresh ingredients. Preferably the best you can find. It's a good weeknight meal and probably one I'll make again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Broiled Plums with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Broiled Plums wiht Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Have I mentioned how much I love my ice cream maker? While maybe not as good as the full-fat version, I like this Vanilla Bean Ice Cream more than most light vanilla ice creams. It's a few more points than say, a sugar free vanilla, but I know exactly what goes into it. Just a half and half, milk, a vanilla bean, sugar, and eggs. Nothing I can't pronounce.

I served it with broiled plums. I just halved the plum, sprinkled turbinado sugar on it, and broiled it for a few minutes until hot.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Apple Peanut Butter Muffin

Apple Peanut Butter Muffin

My breakfast this week hasn't been anything fancy. A lot of times, I don't like to fuss too much in the morning. I got this idea from a back issue of Everday Food. I modified it a bit so it would be lower in points.

Plus who doesn't like the power combo of peanut butter and apples?

Apple Peanut Butter Muffins
1 whole wheat English muffin (like Thomas 100% whole wheat), toasted
1 tbsp natural peanut butter (preferably chunky)
1 tbsp toasted wheat germ
1/2 a small apple

Top each English muffin half with 1/2 tbsp peanut butter and 1/2 tablespoon wheat germ each. Top with apple slices and serve with the other half of the apple on the side.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Barley

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Barley

I would describe this meal as perfect winter weekend comfort food. Although it wasn't a weekend — or even winter — when I made this, I don't' care. It makes a solid 6 servings, which is essential when I need to feed myself and the boyfriend on Monday and then eat off of the leftovers for three days.

The slightly spicy (and almost sweet) rub with chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon adds smokey flavor to the hearty barley that's spiked with red bell pepper and canned diced tomatoes.

Even though it's a complete meal in and of itself, I still added a romaine salad with a Dijon vinaigrette. The recipe is adapted from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook.

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Barley
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
6 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 (14.25 ounce) cans of less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups uncooked pearl barley
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 tbsp chopped green onions for garnish

Combine first 7 ingredients; rub chicken with half of spice mixture.

Heat oil in a large nonstick saute pan with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan.

Add onion and red bell pepper to pan; cook over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned. Stir in soy sauce, broth, barley, tomatoes, and remaining spice mixture.

Add chicken to pan, nestling into vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes . Uncover; simmer 10 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Let stand 15 minutes. sprinkle with green onion.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chai-Spiced Biscotti

Chai-Spice Biscotti

In college I was a HUGE coffee drinker. I think even that is an understatement. I was probably the happiest person on Earth when the local coffee shop offered free refills. For under $2, I could be overly caffeinated, jittery, and wide-eyed all day long.

But some days it was just too damn hot for coffee. And rather than go through through severe caffeine withdrawal, I slugged down iced vanilla chai lattes. I'm not sure who introduced me to them, but I was hooked.

These days I stay away from these lattes. Drinking excess calories aren't my thing unless it's booze. But I still loved chai. I drink chai tea occaisionally, but it's not the same as the sugary vanilla lattes.

The Chai-Spiced Biscotti, though, could become my new favorite form of chai. The all spice and cinnamon goodness plus the satisfying crunch of biscotti.

I'll warn you. You'll need about an hour of free time to make these. But they are fuss-free ingredients except maybe for the triple sec.

Anyhow, these biscotti may not taste much like real biscotti, but they definitely satisfy the chai craving.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vanilla French Toast with Peaches and Apple Butter

Vanilla French Toast with Peaches and Apple Butter

First off, this is not even remotely healthy. But, the best stuff rarely ever is.

This French toast, adapted from Bon Appetit is made like a sandwich with peaches and apple butter in the center. The vanilla butter is a little fussy, but worth the effort, I think. Also, use the freshest peaches you can find. These were not that fresh and it definitely affected the outcome. Overall, if you have a couple of zillion points to spend, this would be a delicious way to waste them.

Vanilla French Toast with Peaches and Apple Butter
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise, divided
6 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
12 slices country white bread
3/4 cup apple butter
6 medium peaches

Whisk butter with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and the seeds from 1/2 of the vanilla bean.

Whisk together the eggs through the cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.

Spread slices of bread with the apple butter, and top 6 of the slices from 3 of the peaches. Reserve the other 3 peaches for garnish. Top with the other slices of bread, apple butter side down, to make a sandwich.

Melt 2 tbsp of the vanilla butter in each of two large skillets set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, dip the sandwiches in the batter and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Spread remaining vanilla butter on the warm French toast and top with maple syrup, reserved peaches, and powdered sugar.

Serves 6.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Strawberry-Orange Smoothie

Strawberry-Orange Smoothie

I know that I said once you've seen a smoothie, you've seen them all, but honestly, I'm running out of things to post about this week. I am working three weeknights this week at job #2 in addition to my regular 40-hour-a-week job. Then, I'm taking off to Cleveland this weekend to visit my sister. So, it has been a week of leftovers. That doesn't leave me much to post about.

This smoothie was adapted from the Best Life Diet by Bob Greene. I've been kind of lax on points lately and have regained 10 pounds. It has resulted in a new (er..old actually) size. Somewhere along the way I've lost focus, which tends to happen when you've been trying to maintain a weightloss for five years. I've been following the Best Life Diet in conjunction with Weight Watchers. I like how the first phase stresses basics of a healthy life first — like drinking water, taking a multivitamin, and moving more. Things that I have been neglecting, to be completely honest.

The smoothie is one of his breakfast suggestions. A WW tip: If you're having trouble getting in you oil, try adding 1 teaspoon of canola oil to this and blend. You won't know it's even there.

Strawberry-Orange Smoothie
3/4 cup vanilla soymilk (you can use light if you prefer)
1 cup frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
1/2 large banana
1/4 cup orange juice

Blend in blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sausage Penne Bake

Sausage Penne Bake

I seem to be on a pasta kick lately. Maybe I'm craving it because I've been tired and stressed out lately. It's not so much that things in my life are stressful, but more because I feel like my week is moving at warped speed whether I want it to or not. Seems like there's always some place I have to be or something I have to do. And carbs=love.

At least I opted for good carbs, well, better at least. I made a Sausage Penne Bake which is loosely adapted from a WW's Baked Beef Ziti recipe. It's something that's kid friendly and guy-friendly (if you have a DBF who is less than enthusiastic about health food).

I have made this recipe reincarnated many times. I've added spinach, topped with parmesan instead of mozarella, and as I have done here, used Italian turkey sausage instead of ground beef. I like it mostly because it makes a lot, doesn't take a lot of effort to prepare, and tastes a lot like things my mom used to make. Ideal for those stressful days. The recipe, by my calculations comes to 8 pts give or take for 6 servings. You can make it more point-friendly by reducing the amount of sauage and/or cheese. And as always, run it through Recipe Builder on your own. As my method (adding up the NI and dividing by the number of servings and then using my old school slider) is probably less exact.

Sausage Penne Bake
1 box of whole wheat penne (about 13 oz)
4 sweet Italian turkey sausage links
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
fresh basil for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box, omitting an extra oil. Drain.

Meanwhile, remove casing from sausage and brown in a pan over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain if necessary. Add rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Toss sauce with pasta and pour into a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean Wrap

I've been trying to eat more veggies lately. Unfortunately, I've had mixed success with it. While I like lots of veggies in things, the list of side vegetables that I can actually tolerate is pretty short.

Yesterday's lunch was at least a couple of servings. The black bean wrap had red peppers and salsa in a whole wheat tortilla and green pepper strips dipped in fat free southwestern ranch dip. Next time I'll add an apple or something because it wasn't as filling as I would have liked it to be. Filled me up but didn't stay with me.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Batteries Dead

My camera batteries died. I took some photos, but they are trapped on the camera until I can buy some new ones.

I'll be back tomorrow with today's lunch.. a black bean and red pepper wrap.

Other highlights this week will likely include baked ziti w/ sweet Italian turkey sausage, homemade biscotti, and possibly a strawberry-orange smoothie. Although once you've seen one smoothie, you've seen them all.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken and Marinara Sauce

Bow Tie Pasta and Chicken with Marinara Sauce

I haven't been in the mood to cook lately. Last night I relied on frozen goodies and random items to pull a meal together. It wasn't anything fancy or even gourmet, but it was quick and filled my belly, which after another long day—that's all I was really looking for. It goes to show, though, that dinner doesn't have to take longer than 10 minutes to make, as long as you plan ahead by keeping things on hand.

I had some broiled chicken breast in the freezer that I thawed. I also had some leftover homemade marinara sauce that I had put in the freezer last time I made a batch (recipe at left). I put both of those over some bow tie pasta I found in the pantry and sauteed some zucchini in olive oil for a simple side.

Chinese takeout is on the bill for tomorrow night's dinner, and I plan to make a dish with barley and chicken thighs on Sunday. Not sure if we'll actually eat it on Sunday, but I'll need the leftovers because I'm working at both jobs three days next week. Ugh. Sometimes trying to feed myself while working 60+ hours a week is challenging.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Stuffing Hash

Stuffing Hash

Admittedly, this looks gross. But it was good. I swear. I worked late last night and when I got home around 7 p.m., I was tired and hungry and realized I was missing half the ingredients for the meal I planned to make. I didn't want to go back out to the store, and all I really wanted was some comfort food.

I had a link of Italian sweet turkey sausage defrosted, so I knew I needed to use that. I remembered seeing a recipe for Stuffing Hash in the November 2006 Bon Appetit. It was a suggestion to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. I had some instant stuffing mix in the pantry, and it almost sounded good.

I ended up cutting the butter in half and adding more liquid to make the stuffing and I used the turkey sausage in order to cut some fat and calories. It still isn't what I would call a "healthy" meal (veggies anyone?), but it hit the spot. Even despite the overcooked egg.

Occaisonally we all need some comfort after a long day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Kashi Go Lean Crunch with Nectarines and Almonds

Kashi Go Lean Crunch with Nectarines and Almonds

Forgive me. I didn't cook anything yesterday. I subsisted off leftovers alone. Sometimes, that's necessary because of job #2. On the weekdays I work at job #2, I go from job #1 to job #2 directly without stopping to eat. Then, because I am only there for 5 hours at most, I only get a 15 minute break. Not enough time to pick up food. So, of course, I just heat up whatever leftovers I have.

The most important meal on these marathon days, though, is breakfast. If I don't get a good breakfast in first thing, I tend to raid the vending machine at work. (Not that I do it often, but my favorite are the Three Musketeer bars. Duh. Chocolate nougat goodness.) Kashi Go Lean Crunch is my current obsession. Not only can you get it in giagantore boxes at Sam's Club, but it's sweet, crunchy and fiberlicious. It's just sugary enough to make me think I'm eating unhealthy cereal, but has enough fiber to stick with me until lunch. Unlike Fruit Loops that maybe stick with me for an hour.

I top it with fruit, in this case nectarines, nuts, and skim milk. I also drink a small glass of milk — enough so that the milk on the cereal and the milk in the glass equal a full serving.

Anyhow, if you haven't tried any of the Kashi cereals, I recommend them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

A week or so ago I went to a local Mexican chain restaurant. I can't say this particular restaurant is ever fantastic, but it's good for cheap Mexican food every once and a while. I usually just order the chicken fajitas, but this time I ordered Enchiladas Suizas. Basically, chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa. Sounded good.

Unfortunately it was only plain unseasoned chicken rolled in corn tortillas and covered with salsa and cheese. I not only could have done better. I already had made a better version once or twice before.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde is the same idea. Except the chicken filling is tossed with some of the salsa and low fat cream cheese. It just makes a world of difference. A flavorful, cheesetastic difference. It is by far my favorite low fat enchilada recipe. As good, if not better, than I can get at any restaurant. Now if only I could accurately recreate those chips and salsa!

On the side is Mexican sort of rice. I combined two different recipes for this one.

Jen's Mexican Rice
2 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, minced; ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large tomato
2 tbsp or so of tomato paste
1/2 tsp or so of cumin
1/2 tsp or so of chili powder
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and jalapeno until soft and the onion is translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings. Add rice and saute another minute or so. Pour in broth, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.