Friday, November 30, 2007

Great Read!

Hey guys! I'm sorry I didn't post a recipe today, but I needed to boast about a book a co-worker lent me. It's called, I'm Not the New Me, a memoir by Wendy McClure. It is all about her struggles with her weight, but in a very funny, blog-style format. She talks about how her weight has always been an issue, as a child and as an adult, and her constant battle with food (she even takes her Weight Watcher Food Companion on a road trip and will only stop at a rest stop if the eateries are in the companion). There are even some old WW recipe cards featured (just for the outrageous photos and not for the disgusting recipes featured; I can't believe that WW created those recipes, but it was the 70s). It is hilarious and at the same time heart-warming how she inspires hoards of people with her weight-loss odyssey. Anyone on Weight Watchers will appreciate the many references to points and food strategies. It's a great read!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lasagna Roll-Ups

Making lasagna roll-ups is a good way to enjoy lasagna but with some portion control. I use equal amounts of fat-free ricotta cheese and part-skim ricotta cheese (you need to have some fat in your cheese). You'd be surprised (or at least I was) that the points for 2 lasagna rolls could be 6 points! And they're very filling, just serve a salad with it and you're done.

Lasagna Roll-Ups
Serves 4

8 lasagna noodles
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 large egg white)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse; lay noodles on a piece of waxed paper on a flat surface.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, combine both ricotta cheeses, egg substitute, chopped spinach, black pepper and salt to taste. Mix well.

Divide spinach-cheese mixture among lasagna noodles, leave the short ends of the noodles uncoated. Roll up lasagna noodles jelly-roll style.

Spoon 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 2-quart shallow casserole dish. Spread sauce evenly over the bottom. Place lasagna rolls seam-side down in the prepared dish. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the rolls. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake the lasagna rolls until cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Honey Mustard Chicken

Here's a quick and easy recipe to make the next time you want to make some chicken (which is, what, like every other day?). Plus, it's really good if you're on Weight Watchers since the amount of mustard and honey in the recipe is 0 points.

Honey Mustard Chicken
Serves 4

1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)

Combine the mustard, honey and garlic in a large resealable plastic bag. Cut a few slices into the chicken breasts (don't cut all the way through). Add the chicken to the plastic bag. Turn a few times to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook, turning several times so the chicken doesn't burn, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Best Meatballs

Growing up, my mother wasn't the greatest cook. And she won't mind me saying so since she is the first to admit it. When she decided to make meatballs, her recipe consisted of ground beef and breadcrumbs shaped into balls, and that was it. She then proceeded to add these balls of meat into a pot of canned tomato sauce. After years of enduring this wonderful meal (ha!), I learned what real meatballs are made from. Now I have trained my mother to make this delicious recipe which consists of more than just meat and breadcrumbs.

The Best Meatballs
Serves 6

3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with your hands. (Sorry, that's the best way to do it!) Make sure the mixture is completely blended. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Form the meat into balls (you should have about 24) and cook in the prepared skillet, cooking on all sides until browned. Place cooked meatballs in a large pot with your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce or homemade sauce, and cook for 1 hour over a very low flame. Serve with your favorite pasta.

(For those of you counting points, it's 2 points per meatball.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Roasted Vegetables

Only 2 days til Thanksgiving!! It's a time for thanks, it's a time for giving, but it's also a time for eating...but don't panic! I have a strategy. First of all, I'm bringing my 1/2 cup measure from Weight Watchers with me (I don't care what anyone says, I'm not going to overeat). At this weeks WW meeting, we spoke about what everyone's strategies are for surviving the day (surviving is not just about making it through the day with your family, it's about passing on a second helping of stuffing!). Besides my idea of bringing my measuring scoop, I'm also making a roasted vegetable side dish.

You can pick your favorite vegetables to roast. Most every vegetable can be roasted, even broccoli. The charred edges and smoky flavor really makes you want to eat your vegetables. My choices for this year are Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, mushrooms and baby onions.

All you have to do is preheat the oven to 400F. Clean your vegetables and dry thoroughly, and cut into bite-size pieces. Spray or line your baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Spray with nonstick spray and sprinkle garlic powder or any seasoning blend on the vegetables. Roast vegetables until tender and the edges are charred (mushrooms will cook through sooner, so you might want to put them on a separate baking sheet and take them out earlier). Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Polenta Squares

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, I'm sure those on a diet are thinking how they can stay on track and not ruin all their hard work with just one day. Here's an idea for a side dish that is delicious and low in points (only 1 per square). If you've never made polenta, it might seem a little time consuming, but it's really easy. Follow the recipe once and you'll see how easy it really is. Then, you can change the vegetables if you like, such as swapping the chopped broccoli for chopped spinach.

Polenta Squares
Makes 15 squares

20 oz Green Giant Chopped Broccoli, Frozen
2 Tbsp Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp table salt
1/2 cup mushroom(s)
1 cup uncooked yellow cornmeal
1 cup fat-free chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 10x7-inch pan with cooking spray.

Thaw the chopped broccoli. Place in a colander and squeeze out any excess moisture.

Chop the mushrooms and set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup boiling water, chicken broth, milk, garlic powder and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and slowly drizzle the cornmeal into the pot, stirring constantly. Once all cornmeal is added, continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture resembles mashed potatoes, about 5 minutes.

Stir in broccoli, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to brown, 25-30 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sesame Broccoli

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for something new to serve with chicken or beef. A vegetable is usually my choice, but which one? Broccoli is a great, filling vegetable, and 1 cup of broccoli has 0 points. Add some zip to broccoli with this tangy idea.

Sesame Broccoli
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, washed and dried
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

Trim of the large leaves and ends from the broccoli. Cut the broccoli into spears. Arrange the broccoli spears in a steamer basket and set over boiling water. Cover and steam until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and place in a serving bowl.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and saute until lightly browned. Add the lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil. Drizzle oil mixture over broccoli in serving bowl, tossing gently to coat.

Each serving is 1 cup (with a points value of 1).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nana's Cream Puffs

My best friend Michele's Nana used to make these yummy cream puffs for her family. On a visit to her house a few years ago, we came across her Nana’s recipes. Feeling nostalgic, we decided to re-create one of her recipes and we both chose the cream puffs. They were surprisingly easy to make, and we used instant vanilla pudding for the filling to make it even easier. When my friend took a bite out of the first filled cream puff, she had a tear in her eye. They tasted just like Nana’s.

Nana's Cream Puffs
Makes 8

1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a large baking sheet. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter and salt; bring to a boil. Add flour to boiling mixture; stir vigorously until dough leaves sides of pot. Remove from heat.

Add eggs, one at a time, to pot, beating well after each addition. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 300°F and continue baking until lightly golden, 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare and chill pudding according to package directions. To fill cream puffs, slice puffs in half. Spoon pudding onto bottom half and place top half on top.

(If you're counting WW points, the cream puff, without the pudding, is about 5 points.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Stuffed Mushrooms

I was browsing through my recipe books and came across an index box with the recipes I've created over the years. There's something about finding handwritten recipes that can be passed on through the generations. Yes the internet does keep at your fingertips, but tangible memories are priceless.

Anyway, I digress. One of the recipes I came across was for Stuffed Mushrooms. I haven't made it in years, but it was always one of my favorites.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 4-6

1 package (14 ounces) large mushrooms (usually marked for stuffing)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Wash mushrooms and remove the stems. Finely chop enough stems to equal 1/2 cup. Place chopped stems in a saucepan with enough water to cover the stems. Boil stems until softened.

Combine softened stems, bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg and black pepper. Mix well. Place mushroom caps in prepared baking dish. Spoon filling mixture into mushroom caps. Drizzle oil over the filled mushroom caps. Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.

(Depending on how many mushrooms are in the package, if serving 6, the WW point value is 3.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Potato

Who doesn't love sweet potato casserole? It's a staple at every Thanksgiving, or at least in our family it is. My dad is usually the chef for that recipe. But about a year ago, I was traveling for work down in Kentucky and a co-worker ordered his dinner and it came with a sweet potato that was topped with marshmallows!

Basically, all you have to do is bake a sweet potato as you would normally bake them. Once baked, cut the potato down the middle, but not all the way through, and spoon some mini marshmallows down the center while the potato is still hot. Then sprinkle a little nutmeg or pumpkin-pie spice on top of the marshmallows and enjoy!

If you're counting points, a large sweet potato is 3 points, and 2 tablespoons mini marshmallows are not even 1 point (.5 to be exact).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Marvelous Meat Loaf

Now that the weather is getting colder, it's time to go into those hearty recipes. So, Sunday night, I made this meat loaf that was just delicious! I used extra lean beef and seasonings and it was just great. You can double it to serve 4, but since I'm one person, I made the recipe to serve just me (and some leftovers).

Meat Loaf
Serves 2–3

10 oz extra lean ground beef, 93% lean
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg white(s)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp Dijon Mustard, divided
5 Tbsp ketchup, divided
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning blend

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg white, Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons mustard, 3 tablespoons ketchup, garlic powder and Mrs. Dash. Mix well. Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Form beef mixture into a 7-inch loaf on the prepared sheet. Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon mustard and 2 tablespoon ketchup in a small bowl. Spread onto top of meat loaf.

Bake meat loaf until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Let meat loaf stand for 5 minutes before serving. Cut into slices to serve.

(For those of you counting points, it's 5 points when serving 3.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Diet Soda Cupcakes!

Today is my mom's birthday, so in honor of her birthday I decided it was time to share the recipe for diet soda cupcakes! It is amazing that you can use diet soda to make cupcakes, but it really does work. Plus, there are so many combinations that you can use.

For Chocolate Cake, use diet root beer, diet cherry soda, diet cola (my favorite is Devil's Food and Diet Root Beer).

For Yellow Cake, use diet lemon-lime soda, diet cream soda, diet orange soda.

Here is the recipe:

Diet Soda Cupcakes
Makes 24

1 box (18.25 ounces) cake mix
1 can (12 ounces) diet soda
24 foil muffin liners (much better than paper)

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and diet soda with a whisk. Make sure you mix well and no lumps remain.

Line a 24 muffin cup pan with liners. Spoon batter into liners. Bake according to package directions for cupcakes, but check at the earliest time. To check for doneness, stick a toothpick into a cupcake and some crumbs should cling to the toothpick. Depending on your oven, you may need to add 5 minutes to your baking time.

For best results, make them the night before and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

(For those of you counting points, each cupcake is 2 points.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Frozen Mango Pops

This is a favorite recipe of mine. And even though it's not exactly summer outside, these pops make a great snack. You can substitute any type of fruit for the mango if you prefer. And, if you're looking for freezer pop molds, I've found them at Bed, Bath and Beyond. In a pinch, you can use paper cups and popsicle sticks.

Frozen Mango Pops
Makes 6

1 1/2 cup unsweetened frozen mango chunks
2 cup fat-free skim milk
1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream
1 packet McNeil Nutritionals SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener

Place all items in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Pour into freezer pop molds and freeze until solid.

(For those of you counting points, each pop is 1 point.)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

"Fried" Chicken or Fish

As you think of breaded chicken or fish, you probably think, "Oy, the calories!" But, I have a secret—Fiber One cereal. Now, it's not my secret, there are people out there who also know about this trick. Did you know that this high-fiber cereal can be used as breading in some of your favorite "fried" recipes? If you're on Weight Watchers, 1/2 cup of this cereal is 0 points. The best way to turn this into crumbs is with a food processor. Just pulse until fine crumbs form. It's easy to bring flavor to this breading by adding garlic powder, Italian seasoning, crushed black pepper, or try some of those seasoning blends.

"Fried" Chicken Cutlets or Shrimp
Serves 4

12 ounces chicken cutlets or 10 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned
2 cups Fiber One cereal, processed into crumbs
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
salt and pepper
1/2 cup egg substitute

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Pat dry chicken or shrimp. Combine cereal crumbs, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste. Place on a shallow dish. Place egg substitute in a shallow bowl. Dip chicken or shrimp in egg substitute, then coat in crumb mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through and crumbed are browned, about 20 minutes.

(Each serving is 3 points. If making shrimp, 3 tablespoons of cocktail sauce is 1 point.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chicken and Artichoke Salad

I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago. There's a restaurant that my co-workers and I used to go to, called Friend of a Farmer, in Manhattan. They have this chicken and artichoke salad sandwich that was just unbelievable. After I ordered it a few times, I decided to try to replicate it at home. It might not be an exact match, but I like it, and so do my friends. I've added some macaroni to bulk it up. It can be pulled together in a flash if you purchase a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket.

Chicken and Artichoke Pasta Salad
Servings: 4

6 ounces low-carb macaroni or other high fiber pasta
1 1/2 cup cooked light meat chicken, cubed, shredded, or sliced
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon-style mustard
1 cup canned artichoke hearts (not marinated), chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
Black pepper


Cook the macaroni according to package directions; rinse under cold water and drain.

In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, chicken, mayonnaise, mustard, artichoke hearts and scallions. Mix well. Chill overnight to blend the flavors. Add black pepper to taste.

(If you're counting points, it's 6 per serving.)