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.