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.)