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Friday, October 28, 2011

Mummy Dogs

In honor of Halloween I had to post this one for fun. It is nothing new or innovative on my part but it sure was a winner with the kids! On Sunday as I was flipping though the paper, something caught Elle's eye and she BEGGED me to make was a Kraft ad!
My husband was out of town this week so I made these for my kids and I ate fresh beets with goat cheese, it worked out perfectly.

1 can of crescent rolls
6-8 slices of American Cheese
1 package of hot dogs
1/2 t of mustard (for the faces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (whatever it says on your can of crescent rolls). Wrap the hot dogs with cheese, then crescent rolls (broken into strips) so they look like mummies. Spray a foil lined pan and bake them for about 15 minutes. It was so easy, and my kids were so happy!

My best kitchen helper loved making them!
And our best test taster loved eating them!
Watch out below, these are some scary faces!

Weight Watcher Friends: You are on your own on these with point calculation, I didn't even try to figure points here because these are not on my list of foods that I enjoy :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mediterranean Chicken

If I can create my own pasta dish or pizza it will include most of the ingredients of this recipe. The other night I made a quick pasta salad as a side dish to something we were having, it had pasta, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and black olives tossed with feta and some Italian dressing. While my husband was eating it he said "this would really be good with some artichoke hearts or some hearts of palm in it", I almost choked! You see, that sounds amazing to me, but I couldn't believe he was saying that! When I first met my Jeremy he was happy to eat a burger and fries or a steak and mashed potatoes everyday. He has probably added about 100 foods to his dining repertoire since we met 12 years ago. And if you ever told me he would ask for artichoke hearts or heart of palm I would have said you were crazy!

After that request I had to get busy, I came up with last week and it was so yummy, so healthy and it was eaten all gone by everyone in my house!

1 pound of thin sliced chicken breast
1 small red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
20 grape tomatoes, halved
1 can large black olives, pitted, whole
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 T fresh parsley
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 T butter, cut in 8 cubes
Salt and Fresh cracked pepper
Several shakes of Garlic & Onion seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray. Clean chicken and lay evenly at the bottom of your baking dish and season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion seasoning. You could use any type of dry Greek seasoning that you may have. Just shake it on, don't be scared!

Place baking dish in the oven for about 20 minutes. While that is baking, mix your vegetables together in a mixing bowl, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, olives, garlic, artichoke hearts and fresh parsley. Gently toss them with the olive oil and more salt and pepper to taste, don't over do it here with the salt and pepper since you already seasoned your chicken. Set your veggies aside until your chicken is cooked. Then pull the chicken out of the oven.
Add your veggies on top and then put back in the oven for about 15 minutes.

If you want to serve this on top of pasta, now is the time to cook your pasta to al dente! I served it to my family over penne pasta. Once the chicken and vegetables are done you can remove from the oven and dish out onto the cooked pasta. At this point you add your butter randomly on top and very gently stir, the tomatoes are delicate at this point and if you want them to hold their shape you can't jostle them too much. Top with the feta and serve right away!
Weight Watcher Friends: This is so yummy! You will love this one! I did not eat mine over pasta I took my serving 1 chicken breast and 1.5 cups of the vegetables and put it on my plate before I added the butter and I put my own feta on mine 1 T. This way I kept it to 6 points for the meal. It was delicious!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Corn Casserole

I had no idea this could be so good and not loaded with fat! A couple weeks ago my husband and I watched and drooled as The Pioneer Woman made the yummiest looking dinner. My husband was jealous because she made it with 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 stick of butter, ugh I think my cholesterol just went up as I typed that~ But it looked really good so I wanted to re-create this with much less calories and fat. And I did a great job, if I do say so myself, it was fabulous!!
4 ears of fresh corn
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/4 of a red onion, diced
2 T Half & Half
1 T Butter, cubed
Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shuck the corn.  Then remove the kernels by placing the corn cobs into a bowl, there are two reasons to do this, one because this is a messy job (literally juice and pieces of corn will be flying ) and two because you want all the yummy juice from the corn to be in your casserole! Once you have all four ears of corn cleaned off and all kernels into the bowl, add your diced bell pepper, onion, half & half, butter, salt and pepper mix together. You may need to taste this to make sure you have enough salt. Sorry but I never measure salt I add a few pinches of kosher salt until I think it is right, I usually taste things and decide if it needs more. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
 This was so yummy, I served it with a grilled fillet and my own twice baked potatoes. It was an amazing dinner.

Weight Watcher Friends: The amounts in this recipe serves at least six. Each 3/4 cup serving has 4 points. So good! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Butternut Squash Fries

Oh how I love squash, summer squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash and oh my butternut squash! It's cheap, healthy, hearty and totally delicious! I love exposing my kids to all kinds of veggies, they love helping me make them and explore them especially when they are as funny looking as a butternut squash. The sweetness of the squash with the savory from the salt combine so nicely. This is so easy, really, really easy.

1 butternut squash
1 t olive oil
salt & fresh cracked pepper (as much as you like, don't be stingy)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut off the bottom end then slice down the center and scoop out the seeds.
Then smell it, because really it smells so good! Like this...
Or you could pose with it like this...
Actually at this point you are supposed slice it in the shape of fries. Then put it in a baggie and add your salt and pepper. You could always do this in a bowl but I feel like when you use a large storage bag you can use less oil and really get all the pieces wet with a small amount of oil.
Then I line a cookie sheet with foil (because I am lazy-like-that and don't like to clean my cookie sheet) Bake them for about 20 minutes turning them at 10 mintues.
These are so good! Enjoy this as a yummy snack or a side dish with your dinner.

Weight Watcher friends: 1.5 cups of this has 1 point.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Meghan!

Today is my sister-in-law Meghan's birthday, Happy Birthday Girl!

Let me tell you a few things about our Meg, she is super easy going, fun to be around, loves to laugh and has a great sense of style, all the things necessary to make a fabulous sister-in-law! She is the BEST aunt ever, my kids worship her, she does all kinds of fun things with the kids! She always thinks about others and would do anything to help any of her friends and family and never expect anything in return. I am extra happy that she and my brother and their precious kids now live less than 6 miles away from us! Which makes for lots of fun times and tons of memories that have already been made!

She is the PERFECT wife for my crazy awesome brother, Brian...

Today I decided it was going to be her day, I told her to go do whatever she wanted and that I would pick her kids up from school and see her at her house for a birthday party and dinner. The kids and I had tons of fun making homemade birthday gifts, cards and making dinner and a cake.

My mom is the best baker, but me, not so much. I'm not great at following directions, I like to try a little-of-this and a little-of-that which doesn't make for great baking. But I do bake an amazing carrot cake and a great pound cake, both are completely delicious and full of fat so I don't make them often, but Meg wanted some good carrot cake so this morning Elle and I hooked her up!

 And it turned out perfect!
That's a carrot cake with cream cheese icing and it looked like this on the inside...
It was really yummy! So was this Greek Salad...
And this homemade lasagna..
Wow, it was really good!
We sang Happy Birthday, opened presents and had a great time!
Happy Birthday Meghan! We love you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steak Fajita Quesadillas

Mexican, Mexican, Mexican food! Mmmmmm! I just love it! One reason I really love it is you can eat really powerful, delicious foods without a lot of calories and fat, if you choose wisely. My husband used to always say this about me... "She can turn any restaurant into a Mexican place!" I used to always order a grilled chicken salad (veggies only) with a side of beans (I would put on my salad) then use salsa for my dressing. Most basic restaurants have those ingredients, which makes a 6 point salad and it is really good! At home, I am always playing with foods and spices that are considered "Mexican" cilantro, lime, cumin, etc, I just love those bold flavors.

One night last week I had one extra strip steak left over that I had not cooked, some corn tortillas, peppers and onions and this turned out great!! These ingredients fed my family of four (two adults and two kids, 3 & 5) you may need more steak and veggies if you are feeding more people.

1 steak (whatever you love/have)
1 bell pepper, sliced (whatever color you have on hand, I used red)
1 large onion, sliced
1 lime, juice and zest
1/2 cup of cheese (I used a shredded Monterrey Jack/Colby mixture)
1/2 cup of Charro beans
Salt and fresh cracked Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil

Season steak, use salt, pepper, fresh lime juice and zest and let sit for a few minutes until you finish cooking the veggies. Heat a non-stick skillet with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or non-stick spray if you would prefer. Add your onion and bell pepper and cook for about 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, gently toss and move them to a plate, you don't want them mushy and they will continue to carry-over cook. Just set them aside and try not to eat them all :)

Then add the other 1/2 teaspoon of oil to your pan, turn up the heat and add your steak cook about 3 minutes per side then move it to a cutting board and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then slice on the diagonal, against the grain.

I use corn tortillas, I love their flavor, they are gluten free and have less calories and more fiber than flour but they do need to be heated before using, in my opinion. I warm them for about 45 seconds per side in a non-stick skillet then make your quesadilla however you like, this one is the one I made for my kids to share.

Once you have all your toppings on it, then add the warmed top shell and be careful when you flip it, corn tortillas are not as sturdy as flour. Cook about 2 minutes per side until just browned. Then move them to a cutting board, let cool for a minute or two then cut them and serve the with my yummy Charros Beans and Mexican Lime Rice.

Weight Watcher Friends: The points for this one varies, depending on what you put on your quesdilla. Two corn tortillas have 2 points, you don't need much meat, I use about 2 oz, 2 points, then add tons of veggies, 0 points and then a few beans, 1 point and  1T of cheese, 1 point. The total is 6 points. Enjoy!

Mexican Charro Beans

I make Mexican food at least 2-3 times per month. We all love it in my house so I make burritos, chicken tacos, fish tacos, shrimp tacos, Mexican salads and quesadillas galore! So I have a lot of side dishes that typically serve with whatever Mexican main course I am serving. This is definitely a staple that I make whenever we have Mexican night at our house. It is so easy and really good!

2 cans of pinto beans
1 t olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of fresh salsa (I use La Mexicana, in the produce section at Publix)
1/2 t of lime zest
1 t fresh lime juice

Saute onion in olive oil for 3-5 minutes on medium high heat until onion softens then add garlic and cook for another minute. At this point add your beans, I partially drain them pouring about half the liquid out. Gently stir in stock, salsa, zest and juice. Cook for at least 20 minutes on medium low heat but they can cook for an hour or longer.

Other options for this recipe that add more calories and fat but also good flavor is to start with bacon or Chorizo. In the past I have eliminated the oil and started with two slices of thick cut bacon, then just followed the rest of the directions using the bacon grease to cook the onion instead of the oil. When I do this I have a really happy hubby! He grew up eating all kinds of fattening stuff and bacon makes his heart sing (so he thinks, I say it makes it cry but that's a debate for another day). Also my husband loves Chorizo Sausage so sometimes I add about 1/4 a cup of Chorizo if we have it. But for those who like it light, this recipe does not even need all this, and is quite delicious with just the healthy stuff.

I use a fresh salsa that I get from the produce section at Publix. I have to keep it on hand for my husband who eat massive amounts of this stuff! We used to get the Medium spiced salsa but my kids love it so much that I just buy the Mild these days.

Weight Watcher Friends: These beans have 3 points per 1/2 cup serving. If you add the bacon or Chorizzo, then add a point per serving.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baked Chicken and Spinach Rolls

I have made similar recipes to this in the past but they always seem to fall apart, this was super delicious and super easy! I love the combination of fresh ingredients and the heartiness of this dish, everyone ate it up! This is a slightly labor intensive dinner to make but totally worth it :)

8 thin chicken cutlets
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 T whole ground flax seed meal (I use Bob's)
6 tablespoons egg whites (I use Eggbeaters)
2 handfuls of fresh spinach about 2-3 cups
6 tbsp part skim ricotta cheese
1 package part skim mozzarella slices
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
Non-stick spray
1-2 cups marinara sauce
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray. Then get set up, you need 3 bowls in a line beside your sprayed baking dish. The one farthest away from the baking dish, will have your spinach mixture, the middle one egg whites and the one closest to your baking dish will have your bread crumb/parm/flax mixture. Like this...

Now fill your bowls like mine: for the spinach bowl, rough chop your fresh spinach, add the ricotta, 1 T of the Parmesan, the grated mozzarella, 2 T of the egg whites and mix together. Because you are using fresh spinach and not frozen this will look like it is not combined but it just mix it well and wait, it will be perfect once cooked. For the middle bowl, put the rest of the egg whites should be 4 T. For the last bowl mix the Panko, flax and remaining parmesan. 

Side note about flax: I love to add whole ground flax to my recipes whenever I can. It is so good for you, full of fiber, lignans and omega 3's. It can used in baking recipes in place of oil, it really sticks! It also helps when your need to bread something. I use it whenever I bread chicken or fish before cooking. Make SURE to buy it ground, you do don't want the seeds. I only buy it ground, Dr. Oz says it is actually the only way your body can really digest it so that is a bonus :) He really does say that, you should read the article.

Now back to business, your hands will be nasty and need a good cleaning after this so just prepare for that. Lay your chicken flat, put about 2 T of the spinach mixture on the cutlet, then roll it up, dip it in the egg whites, then in the breadcrumb mixture and place in your dish, seem side down. Repeat 7 times, like this...


Now put those babies in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Once they are golden brown pull out of the oven, add your homemade marinara sauce  and place your sliced mozzarella cheese on top and place back in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

I served this with sauteed zucchini and a Greek salad and my kids loved it...
And how could you not love this dinner, it is really good!

Weight Watcher Friends: Each roll has 5 points! 

Source: SkinnyTaste

Homemade mmmmmm Marinara

Oh how I love homemade marinara! I used to cut corners on marinara and spaghetti sauces. I would buy a high end jar sauce and one day my sister-in-law said, why don't you just make your own? I thought about it and said, because it is so dang easy to open a jar...but she got me thinking and then I read the label of the jar sauce so I created this recipe and although it is easier to open a jar, this is SUPER easy and SO much yummier!!! It is worth the 5 minutes of prep time plus I just love knowing and being able to pronounce all the ingredients myself!

1 t olive oil
1 onion, diced small
3-4 cloves garlic (sliced or diced whichever you prefer)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 T fresh basil and parsley (or as much as you like)
A few shakes of Garlic Garlic & Onion Onion
Kosher Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Heat a sauce pan, add oil and onion, saute the onion for about 2-3 minutes then add garlic (careful not to burn) simmer another 2 mins.  Add tomatoes, let simmer for about 5 mins then add salt, pepper and herbs, bring to a rolling simmer, then cover and turn to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

I mean really, how easy was that??? Okay I know it isn't as easy as opening a jar but it almost is, and it really is so much better! You can always double this and freeze it :) Also be creative, if you love oregano or sugar in your sauce, add it and see how you like it. Lots of recipes call for sugar I think the tomatoes make it sweet enough and oregano is not my favorite spice so I don't add it but if you love them, then you should :) Enjoy!

Weight Watcher friends: I count this sauce as 1 point for 1 cup but really is it a little less than a point so eat it up and enjoy!