Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Veggie Stuffed Peppers

Here's a recipe for the vegetarians out there. I was trying to find a way to make stuffed peppers without all the fat from the ground beef. I saw a version of this on the Hungry Girl website and came up with my own creation. This recipe serves one, but you can increase it for however many servings you need. You can also use whatever flavor Boca burger you like.

Veggie Stuffed Peppers
Serves 1

1 large sweet red pepper
1 Boca Roasted Onion Burger
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup reduced fat bottled spaghetti sauce, divided
2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp table salt
1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut off the top of the red pepper and cut in half; remove seeds. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place pepper halves, cut side up, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp. to 350F.

In a medium bowl, crumble Boca burger into pieces. Add rice, 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Spoon filling evenly into baked pepper halves. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and the mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer.

(Each very filling serving is 5 points.)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Warming Chicken Soup

I don't know about you, but after making a whole chicken and eating it for a few days, I look at that poor chicken carcass and think....chicken soup! I used the remaining chicken carcass from the Herb Roast Chicken from my last posting to make this fabulous chicken soup, and it was yummy. It's another 2 day effort, but that's more to cut the fat out of the soup, which you really don't need and it makes the soup even richer.

Warming Chicken Soup
Serves 8-10

Leftover roasted chicken, with bones and some meat
1 sprig each fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
2 cloves peeled garlic
1 medium onion, halved, divided
1 bag (8 ounces) baby carrots, divided
3 bay leaves, divided
2 stalks celery
2 chicken bouillon cubes
4 cups egg noodles
salt to taste

Place the chicken carcass in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover an inch over the chicken. Add the fresh herbs, garlic cloves, 1 half of the onion, 1 cup baby carrots and 2 bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, pour mixture through a colander or fine-mesh sieve to strain out the chicken, bones and vegetables. Return broth to the pot, cover and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the pot from refrigerator the next day. Skim any fat from the top of the broth. Place pot on the stove-top. Slice the remaining baby carrots and onion half and the celery into pieces. Add to the pot. Add the remaining bay leaf and the bouillon cubes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt to taste. Cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Serve the soup with the egg noodles. One serving equals about 1 cup soup with 1/2 cup noodles.

(For those of you counting points, 1 cup of broth is 0 points according to WW, but since there may be some fat left over, I would say to be on the safe side, count it as 1 point. And 1/2 cup egg noodles is 2 points.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Herb Roast Chicken

I made this delicious roast chicken on Sunday, and it was so tender and flavorful! The secret is an herb rub that I created that you apply under the skin and let marinate overnight. It consists of roasted garlic, fresh herbs and a couple of spice blends. The texture was so unbelievably tender and juicy that my mom thought we were eating turkey!

Herb Roast Chicken
Serves 6–8

1 large head garlic
6-7 pound roaster chicken, giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry
3 sprigs each rosemary, sage and thyme, divided
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon butter substitute (such as Olivio)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash tomato-basil-garlic seasoning

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut off the top of the garlic head (about 1/4 inch). Spray with olive oil spray and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in the oven until garlic is softened and browned, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic into a small bowl and mash slightly. Set aside.

Loosen the skin around the chicken breast and at the top of the legs. Cut the onion in half and place in the cavity of the chicken. Place 2 sprigs each of rosemary, sage and thyme in the cavity of the chicken.

Chop the remaining herbs and add to roasted garlic in the bowl. Add the butter substitute, seasoning salt and Mrs. Dash; mix until blended completely. Spread the roasted garlic mixture under the skin of the chicken. Rub any remaining mixture on the outside of the chicken and in the chicken cavity. Truss chicken and tie legs together if necessary. Place chicken on a rack in a roaster pan. Wrap chicken completely in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove chicken from refrigerator and unwrap. Tent the chicken with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 180°F, 1 hour 30 minutes–2 hours longer. (Start checking at the earlier time. Most roasters have the "pop-up" buttons that let you know when it's done. Mind did and I checked the temp and it was accurate.)

Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.

(For those of you counting points, this is a tough one. I counted the points for the rub, and that equaled 1 point. For the chicken, 1 cup of cooked chicken or 4 ounces equals 4 points. So, in total, I would estimate each serving at 5 points.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Honey Glazed Carrots

This vegetable side dish is really easy to make, and offers a sweet touch to carrots.

Honey Glazed Carrots
Serves 6

3 cups sliced baby carrots
1 tablespoon Olivio spread
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Place the sliced carrots in a microwave safe bowl. Add enough water to cover the carrots in the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes until carrots are fork tender. Drain water from carrots.

Place the Olivio spread in a skillet and heat over medium heat until melted. Add carrots to skillet. Toss carrots to coat with spread in skillet. Continue heating for about 3 minutes. Add honey and brown sugar to carrots in skillet, mixing to coat well. Cook for about 2 minutes until sugar is melted. Serve.

(Each serving has 1 point)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cherry Angel Food Cake

There is a recipe that I see on Weight Watchers that I've always wanted to try. And since I'm having my parents and my cousin, Marc, over for dinner tomorrow night, it seems like the best time to try it. Now, you can use any type of pie filling for this cake, but you do have to find the Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake that requires you to only add water.

Cherry Angel Food Cake
Serves 12

1 box (16 ounces) Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake
1 can (15 ounces) lite Cherry Pie Filling (or apple or peach)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cake mix, pie filling and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Fill the pie filling can halfway with cold water and add to bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour batter into an ungreased 13- x 9-inch baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Set the cake upside down on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, run a knife around the edges of the pan.

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

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Turkey Meatballs

Lean ground turkey is a great way to cut down calories in your favorite recipes that call for ground beef. I decided to come up with a meatball recipe that used ground turkey and created this recipe that was very flavorful and satisfying. Serve it with your favorite pasta sauce or you can use it in your favorite stroganoff recipe.

Turkey Meatballs
Makes 16 meatballs

1 pound extra lean ground turkey
4 clove garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup reduced-fat parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley

Combine all ingredients. Using a tablespoon, form into 30 balls. Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Brown meatballs on all sides until cooked through and browned. Add to your favorite pasta sauce in a large saucepan, cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuna Salad

This tuna salad recipe is great for a crowd. It serves 12, but it's easy to cut it in half. If you want to bulk it up even more, you can add cooked elbow pasta to the mix. It's also great on a whole-wheat roll or bagel.

Tuna Salad
Serves 12

1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated carrots
1 cup diced celery
4 Tbsp pickle relish
7 cans (6 ounces each) water-packed tuna fish, drained well
black pepper

Combine all the ingredients (adding salt and pepper to taste) in a large bowl. Chill 3 hours before serving or let chill overnight.

(For those of you counting points, each serving is 3.)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Baked Ziti Florentine

Baked ziti has always been a favorite dish of mine, but I haven't enjoyed it in a while. I thought that since I'm dieting, baked ziti would be a no-no, but with this recipe, you can now say yes-yes! (I know, a little corny, but the words just came pouring out of me!). I decided to try that new Ronzoni Smart Pasta, and it tastes like regular pasta, it just has a lot of fiber (6 grams per serving). Also, look for pasta sauce that has 1-2 grams of fat per 1/2 cup serving, that helps keep the points down. Each serving in this easy recipe is 6 points. You can easily cut the recipe in half for a smaller crowd (or for a single person with 2 extra meals, which is what I do).

Baked Ziti Florentine
Serves 6

1 box high fiber penne
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook penne according to package directions for firm. Drain pasta. Place pasta in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Add tomato sauce and mix to combine. Combine ricotta cheese and spinach in a small bowl. Add to pasta mixture in dish and mix to combine. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top of pasta mixture. Bake until cheese is melted and mixture is hot and bubbly, 30-40 minutes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stuffed Cabbage

One of my grandmother’s specialties was stuffed cabbage. During one of my visits with her, I tried to pin down the recipe, but no luck. She said she never wrote down these recipes, she just did them. She did, however, write down the ingredients she used. Here is the piece of paper that I kept from her all these years.

I took that list and formulated it into this recipe, which my dad says is better than his own mother’s!

Stuffed Cabbage
Serves 4-6

1 large head cabbage
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 small onion, grated
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup seedless raisins
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice

1. Parboil cabbage until leaves are softened. Gently remove leaves from core.
2. Combine beef, onion, rice, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl; mix well. Place about 2 tablespoons on one end of each leaf. Fold bottom of leaf over beef mixture; fold over sides and continue rolling to enclose filling.
3. Tear extra leaves and place in bottom of a Dutch oven. In a large bowl, combine tomato puree, brown sugar, raisins, pineapple juice, vinegar, lemon juice and remaining salt; mix well. Add to pot.
4. Place rolls in pot, seam side down. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.

(For those of you counting points, it comes out to be 11 points per serving.)

Food for Thought

It's a new day and a new year. For many years, I have always made the resolution to lose weight, join a gym and just get healthy. This year, my New Year's resolution is to continue on my path to my Weight Watcher's goal of losing 43 pounds. As my last weigh-in, I'm currently down 30.8 pounds—and damn proud of it! I began my weight loss with WW in April 2007. I've struggled with my weight for years. I tried going to a nutritionist, the South Beach Diet and just cutting calories and exercising. Even though I had lost weight with these options, I always gained it back, and then some.

I think Weight Watchers is the best way to lose weight. You are eating regular food and not some processed packaged food. You learn discipline and you learn that you can have your cake and eat it too (you just have to count the points). It requires some work to count your points and plan ahead with meals, but there is no quick fix in dieting—and you have to accept that.

One thing I will tell you is that once you do lose some weight and people start to notice, that is one of the best feelings in the world. And when you go into H&M and can actually fit into something they sell, you will grin from ear-to-ear.

Here is what I looked like back in May 2007:

And this is me at a Christmas party a few weeks ago, happy and healthy and 30 pounds lighter.

I hope I've given you some inspiration for the New Year. Here's to a great 2008!!