Monday, December 29, 2008

Triple Chocolate Brownies

These are by far the best brownies I have ever made. I am serious. My family loves them so much that I am not allowed to any family gathering without them now. Even the kids love them. I cut them into really small pieces since they are just so rich and chocolaty. Now, some people feel that brownies shouldn't be frosted, but I think that is what makes them taste so good.

Triple Chocolate Brownies
Makes about 60 pieces (about 1 1/2-inches in size)

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pats
2 bars (about 4 ounces each) bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% Cacao), broken into pieces
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan over very low heat, melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in the melted chocolate mixture. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate batter. Mix well making sure flour mixture is completely incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Add the brownie batter to the prepared pan.

Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, place the semisweet chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on HIGH for 30 minutes. Stir until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Spread the chocolate glaze on top of brownies. Chill brownies until ready to serve, at least 4 hours. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces to serve. Keep chilled for best taste.

(Each piece is about 3 pts.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Apple Cobbler

I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while. I have always loved those Cinnabon cinnamon rolls that they have at the mall. Did you know that Pillsbury now offers their version with "cinnabon cinnamon?" Plus, they come in low-fat. I thought they would make a great cobbler topping — and I was right. It was delicious. I made this dessert for my parents when they came over for Hanukkah dinner. They loved it, too!

Cinnamon Roll Apple Cobbler
Serves 8

4 large Macoun apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. apple-pie spice
1 tube Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Rolls with icing

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the apple wedges, brown sugar and apple-pie spice. Place in an 8-inch round pan.

Open the roll container. Set the icing aside. Cut each cinnamon roll into quarters. Arrange the roll quarters on top of the apples. Tent the pan with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake until the top of the rolls are browned, about 15 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the oven, and immediately dot the top of the cobbler with the reserved icing. Serve warm.

(Each serving is 4 pts.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

I tend to get a little obsessed with pumpkin this time of year. I love pumpkin. Usually adding canned pumpkin to recipes is what I do to bring down the calorie count, but in this case, there isn't a chance of bringing down the calories. However, you are allowed to enjoy a treat every once in a while, right? So if this is your moment, then definitely try this delicious cheesecake.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
Serves 12

2 cups gingersnap crumbs (about half of an 18 ounce box)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place a pan of water on the lowest shelf in the oven.

Combine the gingersnap crumbs, pecans and melted butter in a large bowl. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla on low speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the batter to a separate bowl. Add the pumpkin, remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the remaining batter. Mix well.

Spoon half of the pumpkin batter into the crust lined pan. Spoon dollops of the reserved plain batter over the pumpkin. Repeat with remaining batters. Drag a butter knife through the batter to swirl.

Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and place on the center shelf in the oven. Bake until center is just set and edges are firm, about 55 minutes. Turn off oven and leave door ajar for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and loosen sides. Chill cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.

(Each serving is 12 pts.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bonbon Surprise Cookies

This is another holiday cookie I love to make. The butter cookie outside is not overly sweet, and when you bite into the cookie, you get a chocolaty surprise of a chocolate kiss! It's hard to eat just one!!!!

Bonbon Surprise Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen (recipe can be cut in half)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
60 chocolate kisses, unwrapped (from a 12-ounce bag)
1 box (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
Christmas-inspired sprinkles and/or sugar

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and cinnamon until combined. Gradually stir in flour until blended completely. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a disk. Place one chocolate kiss into the center of each dough disk. Wrap dough around kiss and roll between your palms into a ball. (Make sure the dough covers the kiss completely so the chocolate doesn't leak out.) Repeat with remaining dough and candies.

Place filled dough balls about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake, turning baking sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are golden, about 20 minutes. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk. (Icing should be thin enough to pour; if icing is too thick, add additional milk, one teaspoon at a time, until thin enough to pour.)

Set wire racks with cookies over sheets of waxed paper. Spoon icing over cookies. Sprinkle with sprinkles or sugar. Let cookies dry completely before storing or serving.

(Each cookie is about 3 pts.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Spritz Cookies

I have been making these Christmas cookies for years. Yes, yes, I know, why is the Jewish girl making Christmas cookies? Well, I did grow up with a lot of catholic friends, and I remember one of my mom's friends always made these around the holidays. A few times I even helped her. They are just so good, they melt in your mouth!

Christmas Spritz Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Red and green colored sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream shortening, butter and sugar together. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Fill cookie press and form cookies onto ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar.

Bake, turning baking sheets halfway through baking, until edges of cookies are light browned, about 10–12 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool.

(Each cookie is about 1 pt.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pineapple Chicken

Still recovering from the food coma of Thanksgiving. Hope everyone had a good one. However, it's time for me to get back on the WW bandwagon. If you're with me, I came up with a really good recipe for Pineapple Chicken.

I love pineapple, and it really lends itself to this dish. I served it with brown rice. Also, if you want to cut points, you can omit the cashews (they add 2 points to each serving). They do add a nice crunch to the dish, but also add some unnecessary points, if you're looking to save some that is.

Pineapple Chicken
Serves 2

1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened pineapple chunks in its own juice
2 tbsp unpacked brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp honey
8 oz uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large red bell pepper, diced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters
1 teaspoon cornstarch
14 roasted, unsalted cashews (optional)

Measure out 1/2 cup pineapple juice from the can of pineapple chunks. Place the pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and honey in a medium bowl; mix well. Cut the chicken into cubes and add to the bowl. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the skillet over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the skillet. Set the marinade aside. Cook the chicken, stirring, until no longer pink around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms to the skillet.

Add the cornstarch to the reserved marinade. Mix well. Add the marinade to the skillet. Cover the skillet and reduce heat. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.

Measure out 1 cup pineapple chunks. Add the pineapple chunks and the cashews, if using, to the chicken mixture in the skillet. Toss mixture gently to coat and heat through, about 1 minute. Serve.

(Each serving, without cashews, is 6 points; with cashews it's 8 pts.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Well, it's finally happened. I won first place in my company holiday bake-off. I did enter two desserts (the other entry was the Pumpkin Chocolate Cake I posted yesterday), but the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with a chocolate ganache glaze took the cake (so to speak)! My mom couldn't believe the Pumpkin cake didn't win, but she might be a little biased (but it was de-licious).

It's a very rich, chocolaty cheesecake, and it would be the star of your dessert table this holiday season.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
Serves 12

9 whole sheets chocolate graham crackers, crushed (equal to 2 cups)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unpacked light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup regular semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture on the bottom and about 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Pour the batter over the crust in the pan. Set the batter-filled pan on a baking sheet.

Fill a 13- x 9-inch pan with cool water, about halfway to the top. Place the water-filled pan on the bottom rack in the oven. Place the baking sheet with the batter-filled pan on the middle rack in the oven. Bake the cheesecake until almost set in the center, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Turn off the oven, and leave the oven door slightly ajar. Let the cheesecake stand in the oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from oven and run a knife around the edges. Let cheesecake cool at room temperature on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place the regular chocolate chips in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on HIGH at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.

Unclasp the pan side and remove. Spread the chocolate ganache topping over the top of the cheesecake. Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

(If you're counting pts, each serving is 12.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Did you know that you don't need to start from scratch when baking a cake? It's really easy to start with a cake mix and go from there. You can use cake mixes to make drop cookies, muffins, bar cookies, and, of course, cakes. This cake uses a mix along with canned pumpkin and lots of chocolate...obviously not the lightest of recipes, but de-licious! I think the chocolate ganache glaze is what makes this cake super sweet.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake
Serves 15

1 box (18.5 ounces) spice cake mix
1 can (15 ounces) canned pumpkin
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13- x 9-inch pan. In a large bowl, combine the spice cake mix, pumpkin, melted butter and egg. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended and smooth. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Place the cake in pan on a wire cooling rack. Let cool.

Meanwhile, measure the cream in a glass measuring cup. Add the chocolate chips. Microwave on HIGH for about 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until combined and smooth. (If necessary, continue heating at 10 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted.) Spread chocolate glaze on the cooled cake. Cut into 15 pieces to serve.

(Each piece is 8 pts.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mock Filet Mignon

I had some extra bacon and some lean ground beef defrosted and was looking for an idea to make for dinner. This recipe has been referred to "poor man's filet mignon" or as the name I have used above. It's sort of like a meat loaf mixture, which is then formed into a round patty and wrapped in bacon. Now, since I'm watching calories, I used turkey bacon, which does lack a little flavor that regular bacon would offer, but it still was yummy. I served this with yesterday's Sweet Potato Fries.

Mock Filet Mignon
Serves 2

8 oz lean ground beef (with 7% fat)
4 tsp seasoned bread crumbs
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 strips turkey bacon (I used Butterball Thin & Crispy)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder and onion. Divide the mixture in half and form into about 1-inch-thick patties. Wrap one strip around each patty and secure with a toothpick (see photo below).

Place bacon-wrapped patties on prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning halfway through baking, until browned, about 30 minutes for medium-well.

(Each serving is 5 pts.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

Sorry I haven't written in a while. I was down visiting my brother in San Antonio, and had a great time.

I have always loved Sweet Potato Fries, but without the fried part. My friend Marina bought me this great gadget from Williams Sonoma that dices, chopped, slices and cuts French fries. I thought, now I can make perfect fry shapes with my new chopper. I read the instructions and positioned it on flat, sturdy surface. I leaned down on the top, but the thing wasn't budging. Ultimately, I had to actually sit on the gadget to get the fries cut, but look how perfect they came out! Not the most conventional way to make them, but they did come out great, and there were so many fries from just one medium sweet potato. You can season them however you like. For a sweeter version, season with pumpkin pie spice.

Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 1

1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed clean
Nonstick olive oil spray
Seasoning of choice (I used garlic powder)

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the sweet potato into thin fries. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick olive oil spray. Spread the fries on the baking sheet in a single layer. Season well.

Bake the fries until fork-tender and edges are browned, shaking and turning halfway through baking, about 30 minutes.

(One medium sweet potato is 1 pt. The other ingredients do not add points.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Roasting vegetables makes any vegetable taste better. And I actually like the flavor of slightly charred vegetables. I admit it. The most common vegetables to roast are root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots. I never thought of roasting broccoli or cauliflower until I had it once when I was in the city. You can use whatever seasoning you'd like.

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
Serves 2

1 lb. broccoli and cauliflower florets (I bought the bagged variety in the vegetable section)
Nonstick olive oil spray
Seasoning blend (I chose to use Italian seasoning and garlic powder)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick olive oil spray. Spread the broccoli and cauliflower florets on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with the seasoning blend.

Bake until edges are slightly charred and stalks are just tender, turning baking sheet halfway through baking, about 35 minutes.

(Each serving is .5 pts.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin-Apple Spice Muffins

Here is another idea that came out of my WW meeting yesterday. The original idea was to add canned pumpkin to a box of spice cake mix. I tried it and, although it was fine, it could have been better. I decided to add some egg substitute and some chopped apple. It definitely made the difference, plus I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top. Would you believe that I was able to keep the muffins to only 2 pts? There are delicious!

Pumpkin-Apple Spice Muffins
Makes 24

1 box (18.25 ounces) spice cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 can (15 ounces) canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 servings egg substitute
2 tablespoons water
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine the cake mix and canned pumpkin in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the egg substitute and water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Fold in the diced apple.

Spoon the batter evenly in the lined muffin cups. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the batter-filled muffin cups. Bake, turning halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let the muffins cool for about 10 minutes.

(Each yummy muffin is 2 pts.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Flat Bread Pizza

While I was at WW today, there were many ideas being thrown around for low-point meals and snacks. One that I have been trying to make is a flat bread pizza using a low-fat, high fiber flat bread, called Flat Out. I haven't been able to find it. Word is, it's 1 pt. per serving and the piece is huge! I did happen find another version from Joseph's which is a Flax Seed, Oat Bran & WW blend Lavash Bread, but it was 2 pts. If you happen to find the other lower point bread, grab it! This pizza idea is very satisfying and is virtually low in points when you use low-fat sauce and cheese and top with tons of chopped 0-point veggies, like mushrooms, onions, green peppers. I decided to have a little pepperoni since I had the extra points to spare. It definitely satisfies my pizza cravings!

Flat Bread Pizza
Serves 1 (yes, the entire recipe!!)

1 piece flax seed, oat bran & whole wheat lavash bread (Joseph's)
1/3 cup spaghetti sauce (I used Hunts Roasted Onion and Garlic)
1/3 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
14 turkey pepperoni slices (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the lavash bread in the oven while it's preheating to warm, about 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spread the bread with the spaghetti sauce. Top with the cheese and the pepperoni slices. Place in the oven and bake until cheese is melted and the edges of the bread are crisp, about 10 minutes (watch carefully, don't let the edges burn). Enjoy!

(The entire serving without the pepperoni is 5 pts.; with the pepperoni is 7 pts.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mushroom Soup

Now that the weather is getting chilly, I have soup on the brain. If you're watching calories, most soups fit the bill, but they may be lacking flavor. And of course, creamy soups are the best, but not "waist-friendly". I've been in the mood for mushroom soup the past few days, so I came up with a light, broth-based soup with just a small bit of skim milk which gave it a somewhat creamier texture. I also added a little bit of Marsala wine for flavor, and it definitely made the difference.

Mushroom Soup
Serves 2

1 tablespoon Olivio spread
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, diced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms or white mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced thin
3 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth (I use College Inn)
1 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 dry mustard
3 tablespoons skim milk

In a large saucepan, melt the Olivio spread over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and sliced mushrooms. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth, Marsala wine, flour, salt, pepper and dry mustard. Mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the skim milk, mixing well. Serve.

(Each generous serving is 3 pts.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The "Best" Apple Pie

Some of you may know, I love to bake. But being on Weight Watchers isn't the best thing for a baker. When I heard there was an apple pie contest at work, I knew I had to enter. I worked really hard on this recipe, even made a practice pie (which my neighbors and friends were very happy with). Out of 12 entries, I came in 2nd, but most everyone thought I should have come in first, which is why I'm calling this the "best."

Now, if you're following WW, you know that you can have special treats and should not deprive yourself of them. Each serving might be more than you want to spend for extra points during the day, but isn't that what those extra flex points are for? Enjoy!

The "Best" Apple Pie
Serves 12

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
8 tbsp (1/2 stick) vegetable shortening, chilled
6-7 tbsp ice water

Filling & Topping
2 pounds Macoun apples
2 pounds Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup unpacked light brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten

For the crust, place the flour, sugar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse about 5 times. Cut the shortening into pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse about 4 times. The butter and shortening should be the size of peas. Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. The dough should come together when pressed together. Divide dough in half and form into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days in advance.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out one of the dough disks on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Place in a 9-inch pie dish. Chill dough-lined dish until ready to fill.

For the filling, peel, core and slice apples into 1/4-inch wedges. Place in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and allspice. Spoon the filling into the lined pie dish, piling the filling higher in the center.

Roll the remaining dough out on a lightly flour surface to a 12-inch circle. You can cut it into 1 1/2-inch strips and create a lattice top, or place the crust on top of the filling and cut out vents. Crimp the edges to seal. Brush egg white on top of crust and sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil. Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Remove foil from the edges of the pie. Reduce oven to 375°F. Continue baking until the filling bubbles and crust is brown, about 35 minutes. (If the top of the crust browns too quickly, place a piece of foil on top to prevent it from overbrowning.) Let the pie cool before serving, about 2 hours.

(If cutting the pie into 12 servings, each serving is 9 pts.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pesto Chicken & Polenta

I needed to come up with a few ways to use the pesto I made and decided it was a great flavor enhancer for chicken. Plus, did you know that those polenta tubes at the supermarket and at Trader Joes are 1 pt per serving? Two and a half slices is a serving, but who makes a half slice? I served the pesto chicken with the polenta slices and it was great! If you want, you can use a store-bought sauce, but make sure you count the points correctly.

Pesto Chicken & Polenta
Serves 2

8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 1/2 tablespoons Pesto Sauce
6 slices basil-flavored Polenta, cut from a tube

Combine the chicken in a bowl with the pesto sauce. Spray a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Add the chicken and pesto sauce. Cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. Add the polenta slices. Cook until browned, turning frequently, about 3 minutes. Serve chicken with the polenta slices.

(Each serving is 5.5 pts.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pesto Sauce

I'm hoping to get to use more of the basil from my garden, but as the weather starts to get cooler, my basil patch is getting thinner. I realized that I haven't utilized it enough this season. So, I grabbed a bunch of basil and made some pesto. It is actually easier than I thought it would be. And, a little goes a long way. You don't need to use a lot of cheese either, as long as you use fresh and grate it yourself. Also, toasting the pine nuts adds to the nutty flavor. I like to add the tablespoon serving to a 1/4 cup of roasted diced tomatoes. It's a wonderful sauce for pasta and very tasty!

Pesto Sauce
Makes 4 tablespoons

2 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
2 clove garlic, peeled
1 tbsp grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp olive oil

Heat a small skillet over medium-hight heat. Add the pine nuts. Heat until toasted and slightly brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Add the basil leaes, garlic, Parmesan and toasted pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture is chopped. Add the olive oil and process until mixture is combined completely, about 30 seconds.

(Each serving is 1 tablespoon, which is 3 pts. For a teaspoon serving, it's 1 pt.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cracker-Topped Cod

When I was up at my friend Michele's house two weekends ago, we were walking through the supermarket and they offered us this delicious cod sample. I didn't understand him at first because of the heavy New England accent (thought he was saying "cad"). He gave us the recipe to try, and I thought I could try and make it lighter, and I think I have. I used reduced-fat mayo and the reduced-fat crackers. It's very flavorful, and, of course, low in points! I served it with brown rice, which was a great complement.

Cracker Crumb-Topped Cod
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon Olivio spread
15 reduced-fat butter-flavored crackers (such as Ritz)
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil, divided
3 Tbsp reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz boneless, skinless cod fillets, patted dry
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a baking dish or pan with the Olivio.

Crush the cracker crumbs. Add 1 Tbs. basil to the cracker crumbs; set aside.

Combine the mayonnaise, remaining basil, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Place the cod fillets on the prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the mayonnaise mixture on top of the cod fillets. Divide the crumb mixture and press on top of the fillets.

Bake until cooked through and the fish flakes with a fork, about 25 minutes.

(Each serving is 4 pts.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shrimp with Fresh Chopped Tomatoes

Hi there, sorry it's been a while, but I've had a full schedule lately and haven't been doing much cooking. I hope to make up for it this week.

I am finally getting some plum tomatoes from my garden and wanted to make a fresh tomato sauce. It's a very simple sauce with olive oil, fresh garlic, plum tomatoes and fresh basil. I tossed it with cooked shrimp and spaghetti. Tasted like it was a dish fresh from the garden.

Shrimp with Fresh Chopped Tomatoes
Serves 1

2 ounces spaghetti (preferably Dreamfields or Ronzoni Smart Pasta)
6 large cooked shrimp
3 medium plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. olive oil
4 fresh basil leaves, cut into slivers
salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

While the spaghetti is cooking, chop the tomatoes and garlic. Add the olive oil the a medium skillet. Heat over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes to the skillet. Reduce heat to low. Stir over low heat until tomatoes are heated through. Add the cooked shrimp and heat through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Pour the pot of pasta into colander and immediate dump the pasta into the skillet (don't rinse the pasta). Toss the pasta with the shrimp and tomatoes. Add the basil and serve.

(For those of you counting, this dish is 6 pts.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tex-Mex Beef & Tortilla Chips

I love beef tacos, and I've listed a recipe or two in the taco family, but this recipe is definitely the closest to hard shell tacos. I've seasoned the ground beef with Adobe seasoning, which I found at Penzy's Spices, but you can use your favorite taco seasoning if you like. The tortilla I used is by Joseph's and it's a flax seed, whole wheat tortilla that I found near the deli counter, and it's only 1 point each! Also, have you seen the 100-calorie packets of guacamole from Wholly Guacomole? Each packet is 2 points, so if you decide to serve this with the guac, don't forget to count it!

Tex-Mex Beef & Tortilla Chips
Serves 6

1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef (at least 93% lean)
1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup frozen roasted corn (from Trader Joes)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. Adobo seasoning or taco seasoning
salt and black pepper, to taste
6 high-fiber tortillas (such as Joseph's Flax Seed & Whole Wheat)

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat and add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Saute until the onion is browned around the edges and red pepper is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef to the skillet; continue cooking until the beef is browned, about 5 minutes. Drain some of the fat from the skillet. Add the diced tomatoes, corn, seasoning, and tomato paste. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and let mixture simmer, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325F. Cut tortillas into 8 wedges each. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tortilla wedges on prepared baking sheet. Spray the tortilla wedges with cooking spray. Bake until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes (watch them carefully and don't let them burn).

(Each serving is 5 pts, which includes 1 cup beef mixture and 8 tortilla wedges.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Artichoke & Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade

I decided to make this tapenade for a barbecue with my neighbors today. I based it on a recipe I once tried from WW, but since I didn't have some of the ingredients on hand, so I improvised. I served this with water crackers, but you could also serve this with some WW toast or crispy baguette slices.

Artichoke & Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade
Serves 12

1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, without oil, drained
1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers, drained
1 can (19 oz) chick peas, drained
1 jar (11 oz) Kalamata Olives, drained
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium lemon(s), squeezed
1 tsp minced garlic
5 large basil leaves
Salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

(Each serving is 3 pts.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

This isn't the normal Chicken Parmesan that you are familiar with, but it's just as good. The addition of grated Parmesan cheese to the breading adds the cheese flavor that you might be missing on top. Serve it with a vegetable and you have a really satisfying dinner.

Chicken Parmesan
Serves 1

3 oz uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, flattened
2 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp reduced fat grated Parmesan topping
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp low-fat spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and garlic powder on a shallow plate. Place the egg substitute in a shallow bowl. Dip the flattened chicken in the egg substitute, and then coat in the bread crumb mixture.

Spray a small nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add the olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and heat until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer browned chicken to prepared baking sheet. Spoon the spaghetti sauce on top of chicken. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

(One serving is 5 pts)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mini Zucchini Muffins

I still had a few zucchini left in my garden, but I think as the summer winds down, so does my zucchini crop. It was a good showing for a first-time gardener. I decided to take the final fruits of my labor and make zucchini muffins. These mini muffins are so delicious, you might have a problem eating just one!

Mini Zucchini Muffins
Makes 36

3 medium zucchini
2 servings egg substitute
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray 36 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Grate the zucchini. Place on paper towel and squeeze out some of the excess moisture. Measure 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini.

Combine the egg substitute, oil, brown sugar, grated zucchini and vanilla in a large bowl.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and mix until combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared mini muffin cups, filling to the top of the cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes, turning halfway through baking. Cool before serving.

(Each mini muffin is 2 pts.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Herb Potato Wedges

I'm always in the mood for French fries and unfortunately eating fries whenever I want to is not in the cards for me. A large baking potato is very WW friendly, so I decided to make some fries of my own. Starting the potato in the microwave cuts down on the prep time. You can also use any combination of your favorite seasonings to equal 3 teaspoons.

Herb Potato Wedges
Serves 1-2 (depends how hungry you are! I ate the whole thing myself!)

1 large baking potato, scrubbed and dried
1 tsp. Mexican seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Pierce potato several times with a fork. Bake in the microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes on each side.

Combine Mexican seasoning, paprika, garlic powder and cumin in a small bowl. Mix well.

Cut potato into wedges (should get about 8-10 wedges). Place wedges on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with seasoning mixture. Bake until crisp and edges begin to brown, about 15 minutes.

(Full serving is 3 pts.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Zesty Cornmeal Chicken

If you're a fan of my blog, you may have seen my Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia, but I wanted to try the cornmeal on some chicken. I added several different seasonings to spice it up a bit. You can omit the chili powder, but you can also add a bit more if you need some extra spice! I served it with some brown rice and peas, but you can serve it with whatever you like.

Zesty Cornmeal Chicken
Serves 1
4 oz uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 egg white(s)
1/4 cup fat-free skim milk
2 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
1/4 tsp table salt
1 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and generously spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat the egg white and skim milk in a shallow bowl. Combine the cornmeal, bread crumbs, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder (if using), and salt on a plate; mix well.

Dip the chicken strips in the egg white mixture, then coat in the cornmeal mixture. Dip chicken in egg white mixture again and coat again in cornmeal mixture.

Spray a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray and add olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes.

Place browned chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Spray chicken with nonstick cooking spray. Bake until coating is crisp and chicken is cooked through, turning halfway through baking, about 15 minutes.

(Each serving is 6 pts.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Seasoned Beef & Rice

I absolutely love the Whole Grain Ready Rice line from Uncle Ben's, my favorite in particular is the Sante Fe medley. It has black beans and corn and has a little kick to it. I browned up some lean ground beef to add to the rice blend and it was a really quick and easy dinner (and made great leftovers for lunch!).

Seasoned Beef & Rice
Makes 3 servings

1 package Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Sante Fe rice medley
10 ounces extra lean ground beef (93% lean)
1 tsp. Lawry's seasoning salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Season ground beef with seasoning salt and garlic powder. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add seasoned ground beef and cook until browned and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Drain away any fat. Return beef to the skillet.

Add ketchup and Dijon-style mustard to beef in skillet and mix well. Heat over low heat until heated through, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add cooked rice medley to beef in skillet. Mix well and serve.
(Each serving is 6 pts.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

No-Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

I've seen this recipe before, but I needed to try it for myself. My co-worker Karen loves peanut butter so I thought I would surprise her with these. It only uses 3 ingredients, and one of them isn't flour! You'll become a believer of this recipe when you try it.

No-Flour Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 34

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar (I used a combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar)
1 serving egg substitute
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Place peanut butter, sugar, and egg substitute in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until mixture is combined and resembles cookie dough, about 2 minutes.

Roll dough into equal size balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using a fork, create a cross-hatch pattern on top, flattening the balls. Bake for 10 minutes, turning baking sheets halfway through baking. Remove sheets from oven. Sprinkle sugar over warm cookies. Let cookies cool completely.

(Each cookie is 2 pts.)

Sesame Garlic Shrimp

Well, Newman's Own has another marinade that is really tasty (Stop 'n' Shop has them on sale for 2 for $5). The Sesame Ginger is very good with beef, chicken and, as I found out, shrimp. I let it marinade for about 1 hour for more flavor, and tossed whatever vegetables I had. Of course, I had zucchini (and will for a while longer), plus I had leftover peas in the fridge. If you want, you can add chopped green or red pepper, broccoli or carrots when adding the zucchini in this recipe. I served it over brown rice, but you can serve it with anything. Also, it can easily be doubled.

Sesame Ginger Shrimp
Serves 1

8 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup Sesame Ginger marinade
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/4 cup green peas

Place the peeled shrimp in a resealable plastic bag. Add the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 1 hour.

Spray a large skillet or wok with nonstick cooking spray. Add the zucchini and sauté over medium heat until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add shrimp and marinade. Cook, stirring constantly, until shrimp are pink and cooked through, and zucchini are softened, 6-8 minutes. Add peas, and continue cooking until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

(Each serving is 5 pts.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zucchini, Corn & Tomato Salad

Well, the first crop of zucchini has been harvested from my garden and I'm so excited! I go out to my garden every night to check on them. I'm obsessed.

I needed to enjoy my first zucchini fresh, I didn't want to ruin the flavor by cooking it. So, I decided to make a simple salad.

Zucchini, Corn & Tomato Salad
Serves 2

1 medium zucchini
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup cooked corn kernels (I used Trader Joe's Roasted Corn)
3 large leaves basil, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Cut the zucchini into slices, and then again into quarters. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Combine the cut zucchini and tomatoes, along with the corn, in a medium bowl. Add the basil. 

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil and Italian seasoning. Mix well. Pour over vegetables in bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight (for best flavor).

(Each serving is 2 pts. For a satisfying meal, I served it with my Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stella D'oro 100 Calorie Breakfast Treats

I have to tell you about what I found in the aisle at the supermarket. When I was little, I wasn't the best eater, especially when it came to breakfast. Since I had to eat something, my mom would buy me cookies to eat (believe me, I was as skinny as a rail back then). Some of my favorites were from the Stella D'oro line.

I happened to be looking at the cookies as I was shopping last week and I looked down and saw the 100 calorie packs for the Stella D'oro Breakfast treats. I figured, why not give them a try?

They are as good as I remember them to be. The best part is that you get so much in that one little bag, you wouldn't believe it. Each bag is 2 points and it is very filling with a cup of coffee.

Now if they would only come up with the Swiss Fudge cookies in 100 calorie packs, but that would be about the size of a crumb!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mixed Berry Tart

My very good friend, Brenda, was visiting the area from Tampa, Fl, and had a little gathering for all her NY/NJ/CT friends. I was so happy to see her and her family. I feel like I hadn't seen them in a while. I couldn't believe how much her nieces had grown! I wanted to bring a dessert that I would be able to enjoy without much guilt and decided on this fruit tart. I wasn't sure if it was going to be that easy to make, since I haven't ever made a tart from scratch, but it was surprisingly easy. And it was so delicious! If you don't want to create your own tart crust, you could probably use a ready-made reduced-fat graham crust.

Mixed Berry Tart
Serves 8

10 whole reduced-fat cinnamon graham crackers
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 pound strawberries
2 cup blueberries, about a pint
6 oz raspberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup unpacked light brown sugar
3 Tbsp uncooked tapioca
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 10-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until crumbs form. Place the crumbs in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Mix until crumbs are moistened and combined. Press into the bottom and up the side of the tart pan. Bake until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Wash and dry all the berries. Hull the strawberries and cut in half. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups strawberry halves, blueberries and raspberries for the topping; set aside.

Place the water, 1/3 cup brown sugar, tapioca and vanilla extract in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining berries to the pot. Use a potato masher and mash berries in the pot. Mix well and let cook until mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Pour the filling into the cooled tart crust. Arrange reserved berries on top of the filling. Place in the refrigerator for about 6 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

(Each serving is 5 points.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Herb Garlic London Broil

I haven't made steak in a while, but I did find a really good marinade. It's Herb Garlic from Newman's Own and it is delicious. I let it marinade overnight, which made the beef really tender.

Herb Garlic London Broil
Serves 6

1 1/2 lb. top round London Broil or flank steak
1/2 cup Newman's Own Herb Garlic Marinade
8 ounce container baby bella mushrooms

Place the London Broil in a large ziploc plastic bag. Add the marinade. Place the bag with the London Broil in the refrigerator; let marinate overnight.

Preheat broiler to low. Place the London Broiler on a broiler pan. Cut the mushrooms into quarters. Place the mushrooms on a large piece of aluminum foil and spoon some of the marinade from the plastic bag onto the mushrooms. Close up foil over mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in the bottom shelf of the oven. Place the London Broil in the oven. Broil the beef until desired doneness, about 30 minutes for medium well (about 150°F.).

Let beef rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. Place the beef on a cutting board and slice the beef against the grain into thin slices. Serve the sliced beef with the mushrooms.

(Each serving is 5 points.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Berry Crescent Strudel

Strawberries and blueberries are perfectly sweet these days. I wanted to come up with a quick dessert or brunch idea, and I just happened to have a canned of reduced-fat crescent roll dough in my fridge that was just about to expire (I keep staples in the kitchen for when I get the urge to cook or bake, but that was an exception).

Berry Crescent Strudel
Serves 9

1 can (8 ounces) reduced-fat crescent roll dough
1 1/2 cups mixed sliced berries (I used sliced strawberries and whole blueberries)
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Unroll crescent roll dough on the prepared baking sheet and pinch seams to seal.

Place the berries in a medium bowl. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Add to the berries in the bowl. Mix well. Spoon the berry mixture down the center of the crescent roll dough. Fold over both sides toward the middle, cover the berries. Pinch ends on top and at the sides to seal.

Spray the top of the sealed crescent dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cut several slits on top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Bake until dough is browned, about 15-18 minutes. Cut into 9 pieces to serve.

(Each serving is 2 points.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuna Croquettes

My mom used to make tuna croquettes for us when I was growing up. I know I mentioned that my mom didn't cook well, but she did try on occasion. Although when she did make them, I couldn't eat them again for about a month since they made me feel a little queasy afterwards, but I digress.

My version is much lighter and less greasy (they're baked not fried). I added Adobe seasoning, which I found at Penzy's but it's not necessary to add it. Or you can substitute any other spice seasoning. I served it with whole wheat couscous, but you can serve it with any rice dish or even some pasta.

Tuna Croquettes
Serves 3

2 cans (6 ounces each) solid white tuna in water
1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs, divided
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Drain tuna well and add to a large bowl. Add the egg substitute, half of the bread crumbs, the mayonnaise, mustard, seasoning (if using), salt and pepper. Mix well. Form the mixture into 6 patties. Place the remaining bread crumbs on a plate. Pat the patties into the remaining bread crumbs to coat. Chill patties for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray. Place tuna patties on the prepared baking sheet. Spray patties with some of the cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until lightly browned. (If you would like them more crisp, place them under the broiler for about 5 minutes, but make sure to keep an eye on them!)

(Each serving, 2 patties, is 4 points!)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

HG's Apple with Peanut Butter Fluff Dip

I saw this recipe on the Hungry Girl website and have wanted to try it for a while now. Let me warn you, if you don't have a sweet tooth for really sweet treats, then this isn't for you. If you love sweets, like I do, and like to keep to low-point snacks, then this is for you.

Apple with Peanut Butter Fluff Dip
Serves 1

1 medium apple (I like Fuji, very sweet and crisp)
1 tablespoon Trader Joe's Better 'n Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon marshmallow fluff

Cut the apple into wedges. Combine the Better 'n Peanut Butter and fluff in a small bowl; mix well. Enjoy!

(Entire recipe is 2 points; if you want to use regular peanut butter, add another point.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chicken Marsala

Hi there, sorry I haven't posted in a while. It was a little too hot to cook lately. I decided to make Chicken Marsala tonight. But instead of buying the cooking wine from the supermarket, I went to the liquor store and bought real Marsala wine. Believe me, it makes a huge difference, I had no idea! It simmers down to a rich, nutty sauce that is delicious.

Chicken Marsala
Serves 4
1 cup all-purpose flour
black pepper
1 package thin sliced skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons Olivio spread or butter
8 ounces baby bella or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken broth
Combine flour, salt and pepper to taste in a shallow dish. Coat chicken pieces in flour. Spray a medium skillet with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add Olivio and let melt. Add the chicken to the skillet. Brown chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add mushrooms to the skillet and saute until slightly softened. Add the Marsala wine and chicken broth to the skillet. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
Combine 1 tablespoon flour and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl until mixture is smooth. Add flour mixture to the skillet, stirring to combine. Let simmer for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken back to skillet. Cover skillet and let simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, turning chicken occasionally. Divide chicken and sauce among 4 plates. Serve over pasta, or even brown rice or couscous.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Orange Honey Tilapia

I recently bought some really good Navel oranges at the supermarket and I needed a new way to make tilapia, so I thought why not put the two together? The freshly squeezed orange juice and honey offer a subtle flavor to the fish, not overpowering at all.

Orange Honey Tilapia
Serves 2

2 medium oranges
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. rice-wine vinegar
2 tilapia fillets (about 4 ounces each)

Cut one orange in half and squeeze into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the honey, Worcestershire sauce and rice-wine vinegar into the bag. Place the tilapia fillets into the bag. Cut the remaining orange into slices. Add to the bag. Seal bag and turn several times to coat the tilapia. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for about 4 hours.

Preheat broiler. Place two large pieces of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Spray each with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the tilapia from the resealable bag and place one on each foil piece. Place 2 orange slices on each piece. Spoon some of the marinade over the fish. Fold foil edges over fish and seal tightly. Place under broiler and cook for about 20 minutes. Open foil partway, being careful to keep the juices in, and continue cooking until tilapia is opaque and flakes easily, about 15 minutes longer.

(Each serving is 4 pts.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Black Bean Salad

My neighbor Linda made this salad for a barbecue we had and it was delicious. There are many different variations you can do, like adding tomatoes right before serving, or leaving out the cilantro (that was my addition, Linda doesn't like cilantro). You can make this at least 2 days before you need to serve. It tastes so good after the flavors have melded after a few days.

Black Bean Salad
Serves 12

1 can (1 lb. 13 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (11 oz. each) yellow corn, rinsed
1 large red pepper, finely diced
1 large green pepper, finely diced
1 medium red onion, finely diced
3 limes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the black beans, corn, red and green peppers, and onion in a large bowl.

Squeeze the limes into a small bowl. (Bonus tip: roll the limes on the counter top to get the most juice from them. Also, make sure they are at room temperature.) Add the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour over the salad in the bowl. Add the cilantro. Toss everything to coat well. Chill overnight.

(Each serving, 3/4 cup, is 3 pts.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Eggplant Stuffed Shells

This is a recipe that I've adapted from my previous job. The original called for cottage cheese, but I still believe that stuffed pasta dishes are best with ricotta cheese. The stuffing for the shells tastes like you're eating eggplant parmigiana. It is so delicious, and you can have 4 shells for each serving. The recipe serves 8, but you can easily cut this recipe in half. It tastes even better the next day!

(This is a picture of the shells before baking.)

Eggplant Stuffed Shells
Serves 8

1 box (12 ounces) jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1 jar (32 ounces) spaghetti sauce (preferably low-fat)
1 container (8 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 serving egg substitute
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. Cook pasta shells according to package directions; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the eggplant to the skillet; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the water to the skillet. Cover skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Let mixture cool completely.

Combine the ricotta cheese, egg substitute, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the cooled eggplant mixture to bowl and mix well.

Spread some spaghetti sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish (you may need a smaller dish as well).

Spoon about 1 tablespoon eggplant mixture into each cooked shell and place each in the prepared dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Cover dish and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover dish and bake about 20 minutes longer.

(Each serving—4 shells—is 10 pts plus.) (Updated 2/3/12)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tuna Pasta Salad

Now that I'm back on the diet wagon, I decided to keep it cool and make a salad to grab at the end of the day. It was really good to come home to after work. It definitely tastes best after it's chilled overnight and the flavors enhanced. Enjoy!

Tuna Pasta Salad
Serves 4

2 cans (6 ounces each) solid white tuna packed in water, rinsed and drained
4 ounces macaroni (I used Ronzoni Smart Pasta), cooked and drained
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fat-free honey mustard dressing
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
5 baby carrots, grated
2 small dill pickles, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Chill overnight for best results.

(Each serving is 4 points.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Back from Vacation!

Well, I’m back from vacation. It was a wonderful time, and I know my mom had a great time (she’s still thanking me). The Grand Canyon was just grand. We actually stayed in a town outside of the Grand Canyon called Williams. Our hotel, the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, was just off Route 66. We were able to walk to the many restaurants and shops there. The people in the hotel and the shops were so nice and friendly, a stark difference from the grouchy people in the Northeast. We went to 2 restaurants that had the best food. One was called Pine Country Restaurant, and it was your typical comfort food place. We had dinner there the first night (we both got the turkey dinner — I know, boring, but it was delicious). But then we went for breakfast the next 2 mornings. It was unbelievable. If you like cinnamon rolls and French toast, then you would have loved the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. Can you imagine? I need to come up with a recipe for this (although it probably won’t be low-fat or point-friendly). The next night, someone recommended a restaurant that was part of a B&B called Buffalo Pointe. The restaurant part just recently opened. The steak was so tender and grilled to perfection. Plus the garlic mashed potatoes were so yummy. We felt so sick afterwards, but it was totally worth it!

The views at the Grand Canyon were spectacular. We took a great tour through Angel Gate Tours, which took us around the South Rim. They picked us up from the hotel and dropped us off in the evening, and in between they showed us beautiful vistas and even gave us a picnic lunch. If you are traveling to the Grand Canyon and are looking for a tour, book one through them, you won’t be sorry.

The latter part of our trip was to Las Vegas. The term “Sin City” also applies to the food. All we did was eat, but at least we made an effort and walked up and down the strip as much as possible. The buffet at the Planet Hollywood Resort, which is where we stayed, was amazing, at least for breakfast, that is. We ate just about everything, tasting and nibbling (and not counting points, not on vacation and not at this buffet).

All in all, it was a great time, and I really enjoyed spending the time with my mom. It was worth every penny to see her enjoy herself (she loves the slots!). Now it’s time to start the watching of the weight, counting points, and starting the exercise regimen. In my next life, I will be thin and eat whatever I want! But for now, I’ll create recipes that are better for me —and for you! I’ll post a new recipe tomorrow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Vacation

Hi everyone,

I'm taking my mom on vacation for a few days. We're going to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, just us girls. Would you believe that it's going to snow in Arizona while we're there? Unbelievable for Memorial Day. But we'll have fun anyway.

I'll blog more about the trip and new recipes when I'm back. Have a great holiday weekend!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cinnamon Baked Apples

I'm always on the look out for low-point desserts and here is a good one. My dad always makes baked apples for himself and my mom and he passed along his recipe to me. Of course I had to adjust it to my tastes and add a little sweet surprise—red hots! They are low in points and I only add about 3 red hots per apple, but it gives them an extra spicy kick.

Cinnamon Baked Apples
Serves 2

2 medium Fuji apples (or your favorite firm apples, like Granny Smith or Gala)
1 can (8 ounces) diet root beer
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 Splenda French Vanilla cafe stick (I found them in the coffee aisle)
6 red hot candies (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Core apples and peel the top quarter. Place in a deep loaf pan. Pour diet root beer in and around the apples. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and splenda. Place 3 red hots in each apple.

Bake apples until softened and cooked through, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

(Each serving is 1 point.)

Scallops & Vegetables in Hoisin Sauce

My dad has always made chicken in hoisin sauce but I wanted to try it with scallops (which is low in points) and it was delicious. I served it with brown rice, but you really don't need it. If you prepare the vegetables ahead of time, you can make this dish in about 10 minutes! You could substitute chicken for the scallops, but make sure the chicken is cooked completely before eating (chicken takes a little longer to cook than scallops).

Scallops & Vegetables in Hoisin Sauce
Serves 2

3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger root
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
3 scallions, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 cup sugar snap peas
8 oz sea scallops, beards removed and patted dry

Combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, grated ginger, sesame oil, minced garlic and water in a medium bowl. Add scallions, broccoli florets, carrots, and snap peas and mix well.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat. Add scallops and sear, turning frequently, until opaque and lightly browned around the flat sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the vegetable mixture to skillet over medium heat. Stir continously until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Return scallops to skillet, and continue stirring until heated through, about 2 minutes.

(Each serving is 5 points. If serving with brown rice, add 2 points for a half cup measure.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Graham Cracker Ice-Box Cake

I've had ice-box cakes over the years, but was looking to make one that was low in points. Using low-fat graham crackers and fat free whipped topping (Cool Whip) made for a great dessert.

Graham Cracker Ice-Box Cake
Serves 5

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 container (8 ounces) fat free whipped topping
7 1/2 sheets low-fat cinnamon graham crackers
2 tablespoons lite chocolate syrup

Add vanilla extract to the whipped topping. Using a 9 x 5 inch pan, begin layering the graham crackers along the bottom of the pan, keeping them to one layer. Top with some of the whipped topping. Repeat layering until you finish with the topping. Drizzle lite chocolate syrup over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Cut into 5 servings.

(Each large serving is 3 points.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Portobello Pizza

I've made this recipe a few times, but I decided to try it with my Bolognese Sauce from my
previous post. It gives it a really hearty flavor and is very satisfying. It's a perfect lunch treat.

Portobello Pizza
Serves 1

1 large portobello mushroom, stem removed and remove the gills (a great way to remove the brown gills inside a portobello cap is to scrape with a grapefruit spoon!)
1/4 cup Bolognese Sauce or your favorite hearty sauce
1 ounce part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray, preferably olive oil. Place cleaned mushroom, rounded side up, on prepared baking sheet. Spray top of mushroom with cooking spray. Bake mushroom for about 10 minutes (it will shrink slightly). Remove from oven. Drain any liquid produced from mushroom. Reduce oven to 375F.

Turn mushroom rounded-side down on the same baking sheet. Top with sauce and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is heated through, about 5 minutes.

(For those of you counting, it's 4 points using my Bolognese sauce. If using another sauce, point accordingly.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Turkey and Vegetable Sauce

I haven't made a homemade sauce in a while and I had some extra lean ground turkey in the freezer, so I thought I would make a meat sauce. You can use lean ground beef if you'd like, but you need to make sure it is at least 93% lean to match the nutrition of this recipe. Serve it over pasta or rice, or use it as a base for any recipe that calls for sauce. It would be great in a lasagna or over stuffed shells.

Turkey and Vegetable Sauce
Serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
10 oz lean ground turkey or beef (93% lean)
28 oz can tomato puree
14 1/2 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced carrot
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is translucent and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the ground turkey to the skillet. Cook until turkey is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and the diced tomatoes to a medium saucepan. Add turkey mixture from the skillet to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours.

(Each serving is 3 points, which is about 1 cup.)