Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Healthy Living

Well, I started Weight Watchers yesterday. My love of cooking and food has caught up with me and I need to lose some weight. I have done Weight Watchers before with good results. And I have to say, I love the points program...you don't really feel deprived at all. And they have some darn good recipes. So, I thought I would share some of my favorites here.

I really love this first one. You can put it in tortillas, over rice or I've even put it in quesadillas. And it cooks in the crockpot so it's easy peasy.

Crockpot Sour Cream Salsa Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C salsa (or use as much as you like more salsa might be a little more saucy. I've use Pace Picante too which works well)
1 package of taco seasoning (I use the low sodium one)
1/4 C light sour cream

Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Lay the chicken in the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with the taco seasoning and salsa. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (I would do closer to 6 so it doesn't dry out). When ready, remove the chicken and shred it with a fork. Stir in the sour cream and return the chicken to the pot and let the sauce warm up.

This next one is easy too.

One Dish Chicken and Rice Bake

1 can reduced fat, low sodium cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C water
3/4 C rice (I wonder if you could use brown?)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

In a 2 quart backing dish, mix soup, water rice, paprika and pepper. Season chicken (go light on the salt) and place it on top of the rice mixture. Sprinkle with additional pepper and paprika is desired. Cover and bake at 375 for about 45 minutes or until chicken and rice are done.

Now, I am not Jewish but I had close friends who were growing up and I love, love, love latkes (potato pancakes). This recipe is AWESOME.


1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/4 C flour
1 small onion
1/4 tsp each pepper and baking powder
4 large potatoes, peeled
Oil for frying

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, flour, salt, pepper and baking powder together. Shred the onion and the potatoes and add to the egg mixture (shred just before frying to prevent discoloration). In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbs. of oil over medium high heat. Drop 4 level 1/4 cup rounds of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Drain on paper towels and keep in in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. Fry remaining pancakes in batches of 4, adding more oil if needed.

I'll end on a sweet note. This is not a WW recipe, I don't think but I know this recipe pops up everywhere. I got it from a friend. These muffins are SO good.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 box of spice cake mix
1 regular size can of PLAIN pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 C water

Mix ingredients well and bake as directed on the box.

Oh my God, they are so moist. Well, my little one is calling me so that's it for now. I have more recipes ion line, both WW and regular. Until next time happy (and healthy) eating!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I had hoped to be able to get an appetizer post in before the Super Bowl. But as it usually happens in life with little kids, things got hectic and time got away from me. But, I figured better late than never. Maybe you all can use them next year. I know lots of appetizers are bad for you so I am trying to balance things out by throwing a few healthier options in.

This first one is a family favorite. I got the recipe from my MIL who I think got it from my SIL so I have no idea where the original recipe came from.

Dill Dip in a Bread Bowl

1 ½ tbs. Beau Monde Spice Blend (this is made by Spice Island but it can be hard to find. If you can’t find it, celery salt works fine as a substitute. This should be more of a “to taste” addition.)
2 tbs. dried onion flakes
2 tbs. dill weed
½ C mayo
1 ½ C sour cream (I used reduced fat for both the mayo and the sour cream)
1 round loaf of bread with the center removed and chunks reserved

Combine the herbs and spices with the pay and sour cream. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour. Spoon into the hollowed out out bread and serve with the reserved bread chunks for sipping.

My note: The original recipe called for a cup each of mayo and sour cream but I thought that was too much mayo so this recipe reflects my modification.

The next recipe I believe came from Stacy’s Pita Chips.

Classic Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 (14 oz. can) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ (10 oz. package) frozen spinach, thawed
½ C reduced fat sour cream
¼ C reduced fat mayo
¼ C reduced fat cream cheese
¼ C grated Romano cheese (you could also use parmesan)
¼ tsp. minced garlic

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees. In a small baking dish, mix all the ingredients together. Cover dish and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve hot warm or cool.

This is slightly healthier and is served with apple slices.

Toffee Apple Dip

¾ C brown sugar
½ C powdered sugar
8 oz. reduced fat sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ package of Skor (or Heath) toffee bits
Sliced apples

Mix sugars, cream cheese and vanilla. When smooth, add toffee bits. Serve with apple slices for dipping.

Tip: If you dip apple slices in pineapple juice, it keeps them from turning brown and brings out their natural sweetness.

Another Healthy favorite of mine is tzatziki. I like to use this recipe from Ina Garten and serve it with veggies for dipping.

Easy Tzatziki

2 (7-ounce) containers Greek yogurt (recommended: Fage Total)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Grate the cucumber on a box grater and squeeze the grated cucumber with your hand to remove some of the liquid. Add it to the yogurt along with the sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and stir. Serve with toasted pita crisps.

And last but not least, this is my favorite during grilling season. It’s by Bobby Flay and it can be found online here.

Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

8 ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 cup Spanish olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
16 (1/2-inch thick) slices Ciabatta or crusty country-style bread
16 thin slices prosciutto

Preheat grill to high. Brush tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and grill until charred on all sides. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and then place in a food process with the garlic, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and the pine nuts. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the thyme, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Brush each slice of bread with the remaining oil on both sides, season with salt and pepper, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 30 seconds on each side. Remove the bread from the grill, brush 1 side of each slice with the pureed tomato mixture, and top each with a slice of prosciutto. Serve.

Happy Snacking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Love Me Some BBQ!

I'm not talking about cooking out I'm talking about Southern style BBQ which is PLENTIFUL down here in FL. But I like to make my own too with my favorite being pulled pork. Yeah, it's not great FOR you but man does it taste good. I searched high and low for a good recipe that had good seasoning and I found this one by Tyler Florence which I use for the seasoning. For the sauce, I based mine off of the Neeley's BBQ Sauce but I add my own twist since I couldn't find my beloved chipotle BBQ sauce I used to buy in CT down here nor could I find anything even close. So here is my take on those recipes.

Pulled Pork

3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 (5 to 7 pound) pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt
Your favorite BBQ sauce

Mix the paprika, garlic power, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it's falling apart.

When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While the pork is still warm, you want to "pull" the meat: Grab 2 forks. Using 1 to steady the meat, use the other to "pull" shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour BBQ sauce over. Stir it all up well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.

To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun, and top with some coleslaw. Serve with pickle spears and BBQ sauce on the side.

Neelys BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

And here is my addition:

1 or 2 FINELY chopped chipotles in adobo, seeds removed (how much you use can depend on the size of the chipotles and how spicy you like it)

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

I've made this for my friend Wendy and her family so maybe she'll chime in with her review. Hmmm, I think I know what we'll be eating during the Super Bowl!