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 Usually two weeks or so after I originally made it.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.