Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pesto Roast Chicken

Amazon has this stand-up roaster: Tumbleweed Pottery Original Chicken Cooker, that has a well in the center to add your favorite liquid. It looks like something that would be perfect for beer-can chicken (which I will be trying soon!), but I decided to steam my chicken with white wine. I had pesto in the freezer from the summer, so I defrosted a few cubes and used that along with some Olivio and lemon juice to rub under the chicken skin. It was so juicy and flavorful, and I look forward to eating it all week! Plus, when I took the chicken out of the oven, all the fat just dripped out into the pan, so it was definitely lower in fat! I added baby potatoes for a perfect meal.

Pesto Roast Chicken
Serves 6-8

1 roaster chicken (about 7 lbs.)
1/4 cup pesto (preferably low-fat)
1 tablespoon Olivio
1 lemon, cut in half
1/4 cup white wine
Fresh rosemary and basil leaves
Baby potatoes (if desired)

Rinse chicken and pat dry.

In a small bowl, combine pesto, Olivio spread, and the juice from 1 half of lemon. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the pesto mixture into the well of the cooker. Add the white wine to the well. Set aside.

Loosen the skin around the breast area. Using your hands, spread the pesto mixture under the skin and then spread over the skin. Add the remaining lemon half, and fresh rosemary and basil leaves to the chicken cavity. Insert the chicken onto the chicken cooker. Place a ball of aluminum foil in the neck of the chicken.

Place the chicken in a COLD oven, and set the oven to 350F. Once the oven has reached 350F, roast chicken until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 180F, about 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Polenta Fries

I am a huge fan of Polenta. I love trying new and different ways of making it. I have thought about trying to make Polenta fries for a while and I decided to try it this weekend. I loved the crispy edges of the Polenta. They were perfect with the Italian Meatloaf I made the other day. Polenta is great for those on Weight Watchers, since it has very little points.

Polenta Fries
Serves 4

1 cup instant Polenta (I used Scalfani)
Garlic powder
Dried basil
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray (I used olive oil spray).

Place 4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Slowly add the Polenta, stirring constantly. Stir mixture continuously over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add seasonings to taste.

Spoon the Polenta onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mixture about 1/4-inch thick.

Let the Polenta stand until cool and set, about 30 minutes. Lift the foil and transfer the Polenta to a flat work surface. Line baking sheet again with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut the Polenta into fries and transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Spray again with nonstick cooking spray. Season again with garlic powder and salt.

Bake until edges are crisp, turning halfway through baking, about 30 minutes.

(Each serving is 1 pt.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Italian Meatloaf

I haven't always been a fan of meatloaf. I remember my Mom used to make meatloaf for my Dad, and I never wanted any part of it. I don't know what she put into it, but it wasn't for me. I have made meatloaf for myself, many different versions, but it wasn't until a few years ago. This version tastes like a giant meatball, and I love it! I could have eaten the whole thing (or at least half), but a single serving is 2 slices. Of course you can eat as many slices as you like if you're not on Weight Watchers, but if you're watching, it's 7 points for 2 slices (not too bad)!

Italian Meatloaf
Serves 5 (two slices per serving)

1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large egg
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic (equal to 2 cloves)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup low-fat spaghetti sauce, divided
1/3 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, milk, tomato paste, garlic and Italian seasoning. Mix well with your hands. Transfer beef mixture to the prepared baking sheet and form into a meatloaf shape. Spoon 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce over the top.

Bake meatloaf until browned around the edges and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread the top of the meatloaf with the remaining spaghetti sauce and sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese. Bake until mozzarella is melted, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into slices to serve.

(Each serving, 2 slices, is 7 pts.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

I don't know why, but I had this vision of Cookies & Cream cupcakes. I wanted to make something special for my brother before he left for Alaska. I researched recipes on the internet and found this recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor. The batter was a little too thick for my taste, so I added water to the recipe, which was just what it needed. They were still moist and delicious. The secret to making a cake mix taste more like homemade is the additional ingredients, in this case it was the sour cream. I used light, but it didn't really help the calorie count. But they were delicious!!

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes
Makes 24

18 Oreo Cookies
1 box White Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
3 large eggs
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (12 ounces) Betty Crocker whipped fluffy white frosting

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. Place Oreos in a resealable plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, roll over the Oreos to crush. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, water, and vanilla extract. Beat mixture on low speed for 1 minute, and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Measure 1/2 cup Oreo crumbs and add to the cake batter, folding to combine. Spoon cake batter into the cupcake liners. Bake until cupcakes are lightly brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Frost cupcakes with frosting and top with remaining Oreo crumbs.

(Each cupcake is 6 pts.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blueberry Crumble Bars

My co-worker John's birthday is on Wednesday. He always bakes for everyone's birthday and I thought it only fair that someone bake for him. His request for his birthday: Blueberry Crumble Bars. I searched the Internet for a good recipe and I think I found it. It was originally published in The Good Cookie, but reviews showed that the crust wasn't enough to cover the pan, so I added to the recipe. They smelled so good baking, a hint of cinnamon with the brown sugar. And as I watched the blueberry center bubbling through I couldn't wait to try them. They are delicious!!

Blueberry Crumble Bars
Makes 28 Bars

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For the Filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 cups blueberries (about 1 1/2 pints)

For the Crumble Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

For the crust, combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and light brown sugar on medium speed until combined. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture. Press the crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

For the filling, combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the blueberries, stirring to coat. Spoon the filling mixture over the crust.

For the crumble topping, combine the all-purpose flour, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Mix well. Crumble the topping and sprinkle over the blueberry filling. Bake until crumble topping is brown and the blueberry filling is bubbly, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cut into 28 bars.

(Each bar is 5 pt pls.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inside Out Turkey Tamale

I have been getting daily emails from Hungry Girl for a few years now, and I get a lot of recipe inspiration from them. This recipe came from a recent email and I knew I wanted to try it just by reading the ingredients. Ground turkey, corn, beans, diced tomatoes, cornmeal...all in a slow cooker. It was so easy to make and so delicious. I've been eating this all week! I did alter it slightly from the Hungry Girl recipe. I used pinto beans instead of red kidney (just like them better), left out the black olives (not a fan), reduced the amount of chili powder (don't like it too spicy), and reduced the cornmeal (didn't have enough for the full amount called for and it was just as thick). Yummy!!!

Inside Out Turkey Tamale
Makes 6 one-cup servings

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (93% lean)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with chilies
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup canned pinto beans
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook the turkey, breaking up into small pieces. Drain excess fat from skillet. Add the cooked turkey to the slow cooker.

Combine the cornmeal and the chicken broth. Mix well and let stand for about 10 minutes. Add to the turkey in the slow cooker. Add the diced tomatoes, corn, pinto beans, onion, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder. Stir well. Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, or on LOW for 7 to 8 hours. (Cooking Tip: When it gets closer to the end of the cook time, stir once or twice to prevent the mixture from burning or sticking to the dish.)

(Each 1 cup serving is 7 pt pls.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flatbread Pizzas

Who didn't grow up eating English Muffin pizzas? I used to love making them and enjoying them as a snack in my younger days. But these days, my quick metabolism that I had in my 20s is still taking a nap and I need to improvise. Arnold Sandwich Flatbreads are my favorite alternatives to English Muffins. I use them all the time a rolls for Boca Burgers and other sandwiches, but then the light bulb above my head finally went off — why not use them for pizzas! They were delicious, and if you add a salad on the side, this makes a great lunch.

Flatbread Pizzas
Serves 1

1 Arnold Sandwich Flatbread, multigrain
2 tablespoons low-fat spaghetti sauce (I use Scalfani)
1/4 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese (I use Sargento)

Split the flatbread and lightly toast in a toaster oven. Spread one tablespoon on each flatbread half; divide the mozzarella between the two halves. Bake the pizzas in the toaster oven set at 300F until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

(This entire recipe is 5 pt pls.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sauteed Shrimp Polenta

Have you ever seen those tubes of polenta in the grocery store? I love polenta and this is a very easy way to enjoy it. A single serving is two 1/2-inch slices and it's only 1 point! They come in plain and different flavors like Basil and Garlic (my favorite). Most supermarkets carry this, as does Trader Joe's. I've been trying to decide on what to serve it with, and I came up with a sauteed shrimp idea that was perfect for it.

Sauteed Shrimp Polenta
Serves 2

8 1/4-inch slices polenta
1 tablespoon Olivio Spread
8 ounces frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons sherry or white wine
2/3 cup cooked green peas
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-low heat. Add the polenta slices and cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Divide polenta slices onto dinner plates.

Add the Olivio to the same skillet; let melt. Add the shrimp and minced garlic. Saute the shrimp and garlic over medium heat until they just start to turn pink, about 2 minutes. Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp mixture. Once you measure the basil, place it in the palm of your hand and crush it into the skillet. Add the sherry or white wine and the peas. Continue sauteing mixture until the liquid is slightly reduced and the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Divide mixture and spoon over polenta rounds.

(Each serving is 6 points.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Marinated Bison Steak

A few years back, during a visit with my brother and his now wife in Texas, they introduced me to Bison meat. I was a little leery of how it would taste or if it was going to be too gamey for me. I was very surprised at how tender it really was. It was so yummy and had almost no fat! For someone following Weight Watchers, you couldn't ask for a better cut of meat. The problem was, I couldn't find them in CT. Recently I came across a packaged brand of Bison medallions at Shop Rite. Not sure all locations have them. They are so delicious and each 6 ounce medallion is only 4 points!

Marinated Bison Steak
Serves 1

1 (6 ounce) Bison Steak Medallion
1/4 cup Mango Teriyaki Sauce (or your favorite flavored teriyaki sauce)
1 large Portobello mushroom cap, sliced
Steamed Broccoli

Place Bison in a resealable plastic bag. Add the teriyaki sauce. Let meat marinate for 30 minutes.

Spray a small skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated steak. Sear on both sides. Add the sliced portobello. Reduce heat to medium and cook until mushrooms are softened and meat is desired doneness, turning frequently, about 10 minutes for medium well. Serve with Steamed Broccoli on the side.

(This entire dish, with broccoli, is 5 very filling points.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes

I didn't always love Brussels sprouts. My experience with Brussels sprouts was my mom boiling the heck out of the frozen variety. I can still remember the smell, and it wasn't a good one. Years later I happened to be at an event and they were passing around a Brussels sprouts appetizer and my taste buds welcomed back the forgotten vegetable. My favorite way to enjoy these mini cabbages these days are by roasting them. I decided to add some sweet potato (since I happened to have it in my kitchen), and I loved the combination. Just seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder, they didn't need anything else.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2 (very generous portions)

1 container Brussels sprouts, cleaned and bottoms trimmed
1 large sweet potato
Garlic powder
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half. Cut the sweet potato into small pieces. Add to the prepared pan and spray with additional nonstick cooking spray. Season with garlic power, salt and black pepper to taste.

Roast until edges are slightly charred and vegetables are soft, 40 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Enjoy!

(Each large serving is 2 pts.)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

Who doesn't love potatoes? I know I do, and potato leek soup is one of my favorites. The best part is, it's so creamy and rich without the addition of cream. Blending the soup with an emulsion blender gives it it's creamy texture.

Potato Leek Soup
Makes 8 one-cup servings

1 tablespoon Olivio spread or butter
1 medium leek, sliced and rinsed
5 cups water
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cube chicken bouillon
1/8 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 tsp garlic powder
black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the Olivio over low heat until melted. Add the sliced leek until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the water, potatoes, chicken bouillon, rosemary, thyme and garlic powder. Heat over low heat for 3 hours. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Blend with an emulsion blender (or as an alternative, you can place the cooled soup in a blender) and blend until smooth. Return to low heat and heat through, adding salt and black pepper to taste.

(Each serving is 2 pt pls.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti

I've been roasting vegetables a lot lately. They taste so good roasted and add big flavor to any dish, so I decided to try it with baked ziti. It was delicious. I used low-fat cheeses to keep the point value down, but if you're not on WW, go ahead and use the full-fat versions. The smokey flavor of the roasted vegetables added such great flavor to the ziti, it'll become your favorite too.

Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti
Serves 4 or 6

8 ounces Ronzoni Smart Pasta penne (or other brand pasta)
2 small eggplants, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 can Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Spray a medium baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the diced eggplant, diced zucchini, cherry tomatoes and garlic. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. Roast vegetables until softened and charred around the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Reduce oven to 350F. Add fire-roasted tomatoes and spaghetti sauce to roasted vegetable mixture in pan. Mix well. Place cooked pasta to prepared dish. Add the roasted vegetable mixture to pasta and mix to combine. Dot the ricotta cheese onto pasta mixture, folding to combine. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, about 10 minutes longer.

(For 6 servings, each is 4 pts. If serving 4, it's 7 pts. each)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cupcake Decorating!

I was too excited to take a cupcake decorating class last week. It was at the Sono Bakery & Cafe in South Norwalk, CT. We were hoping that the class was going to be taught by John Barricelli, who worked for Ms. Martha Stewart and can be seen on Everyday Food, but he wasn't there. One of the bakers, Dana, was there to teach us and she was great! I wish there were more classes to take like this one. It was great to be behind the scenes in the massive kitchen and create these works of art. Just wanted to share them with you!

I'm keeping this one in the freezer, I was so proud of this one. You just used the petal tip with the curved top, and pulled the bag straight up.

This was a sunflower, using the leaf tip. The center is mini malt balls that they had for decorating.

This is one I came up with on my own. I used one of the star tips and the leaf tip.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hearty Lentil Soup

I absolutely love lentil soup and always wanted to make it. I never knew it could be so easy and so delicious. I researched several recipes and found one that was close to what I was looking for and made some changes to make it my own. Sweet potatoes add a healthy and filling sweet addition to the soup, and chopped leeks offer that subtle onion taste without being too overpowering. Enjoy!!

Hearty Lentil Soup
Makes 12 Servings

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 slices Boar's Head Sliced Naturally Smoked Imported Bacon, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped leeks
1/2 cup Hodgson Mill Whole wheat graham flour (or other whole wheat flour)
3 1/2 quarts water (14 cups)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups dry lentils
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place olive oil and butter in a 7 quart stock pot. Add bacon, carrots, celery and leeks, and saute over medium heat until vegetables soften and bacon is crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the flour and stir until vegetables and bacon are coated. Add the water to the pot; stir well.

Add the bay leaves, salt, lentils, beef cubes, sweet potatoes, thyme, nutmeg, and black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 4 hours.

(Each serving is 2 cups and only 3pts!!!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yummy Banana Bread

Every time I have bananas in the house and they get too ripe, I have this urge to make banana bread. I created this recipe based on another recipe I found online. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose and added walnuts. Plus, I sprinkled an extra tablespoon of brown sugar to the top of the batter before baking. It gives it a really nice top crust.

Banana Bread

Serves 12


2 cups whole wheat graham flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, divided

2 servings egg substitute

3 medium overripe bananas

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 5 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Beat in the egg substitute and bananas.

Gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring until combined. Add the walnuts and mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining tablespoon brown sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

(If you're counting points, cutting into 12 slices, each slice is 5 pts.)