Friday, April 29, 2011

Mac & Cheese 3 Ways

Macaroni & Cheese
9 Weight Watcher Points Plus (for 1 Cup serving)

First I have to start by saying that it has been awhile since I blogged for a few reasons. First, we hosted Easter last weekend and had so many leftovers that we have been eating them all week. This lead to a VERY bad week for me and not much (well any really) healthy cooking. I mean bad like eating chocolate bunnies bad. I finally just threw all the candy out. Second, it is difficult to cook with my youngest daughter on a normal day and she has been sick this week. This is what my kitchen looked like after I made the mac & cheese....

Back to the mac & cheese, this recipe is another Rocco recipe from his cookbook, "Now Eat This". Rocco replaces the normal flour and butter in the cheese sauce with a garlic & onion puree. I wasn't sure how this would work but it was delicious! And this definitely saves on the fat and calories. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly for the first version of the mac & cheese except I used regular cheddar cheese instead of low-fat (that's what I had in the fridge), I used italian bread crumbs instead of panko and I didn't use the parmigiano-reggiano. Click here for the recipe.

Version 2. is just the mac & cheese sans bread crumbs sprinkled with diced pepperoni. This was for my 3 year old daughter who is so picky right now that she doesn't even like mac & cheese. She loves pepperoni so I let her "help" by sprinkling pepperoni on hers. It worked because she ate it and said, "That is good!"

Version 3. was for me. I added a tiny bit of blue cheese on top of the mac & cheese and then topped it with diced tomatoes (from a can) and some bread crumbs. I love, love, loved this. The little bit of blue cheese & tomatoes added so much flavor and made this a more grown-up version of mac & cheese.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the dish. It was very good and the whole family enjoyed it. I definitely recommend doing a 1 cup portion in a ramekin so that you don't overdue it. It is very yummy!

Here is the point info:

Version 1 & 3: 9 pp for 1 cup, 4 for 1/2 cup

Well, I have to face the music at my weigh-in tomorrow. I have a feeling that it isn't going to be pretty but it will get me motivated to turn things back around for next week.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Weigh-in

The holidays are hard when you are dieting. They are especially hard for me when lots of chocolate is involved. I remember as a kid growing up that we would always get a chocolate bunny in our Easter baskets. My sister's bunny would be around for a few weeks. She would savor it. Mine was gone in a day or maybe two. My chocolate bunnies never had a chance.

Today at my Weight Watcher's meeting I hit the 20 lb. mark. (21.6 pounds down to be exact.) It felt good to hit a milestone. So how did I celebrate? Well I came back to host Easter dinner for my husband's family. The food was great and everyone had a blast. Now I'd better go hit the treadmill to make up for the feast.

Oh and please Easter bunny do NOT leave me a chocolate bunny tomorrow. You know I can't resist.

Happy Easter everyone!

P.S. - I calculated the points in the chocolate Easter bunny my girls will be getting in their Easter baskets tomorrow. Ready for this....23 weight watcher points plus!!! I am staying far away from those.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Now THAT is a Salad!!

Marinated Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce
8 Weight Watcher Points Plus (for 1/4th of meat & 1 1/2 T of sauce)

I recently purchased Ellie Krieger's cookbook, "So Easy" cookbook. Have you seen her on the Food Network? She is a nutritionist and focuses on good but healthy food. I love that she cooks healthy but doesn't use any "fake" food. I define fake food as fat-free cheese (eck) and artificial sugars, etc. One of the first recipe's I flagged in the book was the marinated flank steak with blue cheese sauce because it used two of my favorite ingredients: blue cheese & balsamic vinegar.

This was very good and easy. The only thing I changed was using romaine lettuce instead of radicchio leaves. (I am not that adventuress with my produce). I made mine on our gas grill, even though it was windy and very cold. I am beyond ready for spring!! I did the onions in a non-stick skillet.

My husband loved this. See you keep the family happy and serve them healthy food!

Here is the recipe.

The Third Birthday... Season?

It seems like we have been celebrating my daughter's 3rd birthday forever. Maybe that is because we have been celebrating it for over three weeks now. It started two weeks ago with our visit to IL. We had an early celebration with the Grandparents in IL and some other family. Then we had her actual birthday this past Wednesday, which we commemorated with a trip to the mall to see the Easter bunny. Finally, we had her 3rd birthday party this weekend.

It was a Mommy & Me Fairy party. Wings, wands and crowns oh my! We had the usual kid birthday spread: pizza & cake but I did make a healthier option for the Mommy's and it was a big hit.

Crispy Pecan-Crusted Chicken
6 Weight Watcher Points Plus (for 5 ounce serving)

This recipe was from the Just 5 Weight Watcher cookbook. It was a big hit with the Mommy's. I used chicken tenders for mine and served them on a spinach salad. Pictured above is my first practice batch that I made earlier in the week with my monster potato wedges.

  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 (5 ounce) skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders)
  • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup plain dried bread crumbs (I used Italian because that is what I had)
  • 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasonings
  • Marinate chicken in buttermilk for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pecans, bread crumbs & Cajun seasoning in a dish. Coat chicken allowing excess buttermilk to drip off before coating. Lightly spray chicken on both sides with cooking spray.
  • Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray. Add chicken and cook until golden, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until chicken is cooked through 10-12 minutes.
Well this brings an end to the birthday season. Because of the party I missed my meeting and weigh-in so I don't have any weight loss updates this week. Now we can move on to the next holiday: Easter. Which is er next week already !?#@@??!!! Hopefully I can eat healthy for this next season too!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Black Beans in Brownies?

Black Bean Brownies
4 Weight Watcher Points Plus

I probably would have never tried this brownie recipe if I hadn't had them at my daughter's playgroup. One of the moms made these when she hosted and I couldn't believe how good they were. They are of course not as good as regular brownies but they are very good considering the ingredients and they don't come with the guilt.

Obviously we liked them because I couldn't get my daughter, and well me too, to wait until they cooled before we tried them. I didn't even get a picture taken before we dove in. My three year old loved them. These are her words exactly, "I love brownies. Brownies are treats for little girls." She couldn't stop talking about them and she doesn't have to know these are a healthier version. (My one year old threw hers on the ground with the rest of her food.)

They actually taste even better when they have cooled for awhile.

Here is how you do it...

  • 1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed = 9 pp
  • 3 eggs = 6 pp
  • 3 T canola oil = 12 pp
  • 3/4 cup sugar = 16.5 pp
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder = 2 pp
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips = 4 pp
  • Total points = 49.5
  • One 12th of the pan = 4 pp
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except chocolate chips) and blend with an immersion blender. You could do this in the food processor or the blender.
  • Pour in greased 8 x 8 pan & sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kale Chips: Two Thumbs Down

Kale Chips
0 Weight Watcher Points Plus

I have wanted to try kale chips for awhile now. Not because of my diet but because I have heard that kids love these. My tots don't like milk and kale is a good source of calcium, not-to-mention all other sorts of good stuff. So I finally decided to give them a try. I used this recipe although there are tons of recipes for these all over the web.

I have read that you have to be very careful when you cook these. If you take them out too early they aren't crunchy and if you leave them in too long they have a burnt taste. Mine weren't burnt and they were crunchy but I didn't like them. I actually didn't even give them to my kids because I usually only get one shot with them. If they don't like things the first time they really don't want to try them again. I might try this again someday so I decided to wait.

I thought they tasted bitter. I did enjoy them when I added 1 T of low-fat sour cream (1 pp) but they are very crumbly and hard to dip. I also don't think these are worth all of the effort (washing, spinning, drying, chopping, etc.). I think you are better off putting kale in soup.

If you have better luck with them let me know!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fancy Lunch (Psst there's a secret...)

Spicy Chili Lentils & Quinoa
8 Weight Watcher Points Plus (11 pp if you add the avocado)

When I was working I mostly brown bagged my lunch. But, least once a week I would go out for lunch with a co-worker. Now, I do not go out to lunch for a few reasons: 1. Not in the budget, 2. While I love my co-workers (other stay-at-home-mamas) my bosses (the two tots) are not fun to dine with especially so close to nap-time. But, just because I can't go out to lunch doesn't mean I have to eat a turkey sandwich everyday.

So what is the secret I mentioned above? While this lunch looks fancy (my 3 year old has a thing for Fancy Nancy so this word has been interjected into my lexicon) this is super fast & easy. First I started with Quinoa. I cooked a big batch of this on Sunday so I would have it ready to eat during the week. I just followed the recipe on the bag. I used fat-free chicken stock for my liquid but you could use veggie stock if you don't eat meat.

I have recently started eating Quinoa and I really love it. I was a bit scared off at first because it was described as being very healthy which usually means it tastes like - well you know. First, quinoa is easy to cook -- much easier than brown rice which I ALWAYS screw up. Also, I bought a bag at Costco so now I've got to try it in new recipes (it was just so much cheaper there). You may be scratching your head (I was until recently), if you have never heard of quinoa (pronoucned keen-wah) and want to learn more about why it is good for you, etc. click here.

Next, I opened the bag of Madras Lentils pictured above and microwaved it. I normally don't buy pre-packed stuff like this but the sample lady got me at Costco. It tasted really good. It is marketed as something to mix with rice, a taco filler or as a chili style topping (Think chili fries or chili dog.) It is 4 pp for a serving which is half of the package.

Here are the specifics...

  • 3/4 cup of cooked Quinoa = 4 pp
  • 1/2 package of Madras lentils = 4 pp
  • 1/4 of an avocado sliced (optional) = 3 pp
  • Cilantro (optional) = 0 pp
  • Cook quinoa according to the package
  • Microwave lentils
  • Combine all ingredients & enjoy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Faux Fried Mozzerella Cheese Sticks!!!!

Faux Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
6 Weight Watcher Points Plus

When you can find a way to eat mozzarella cheese sticks on your diet you have to put a few exclamation marks in the title. I love junk food and I'd put these in my favorite junk food category: Bar Food. If it is fried I love it. I have given up these foods except for on occasion when I decide to splurge. (When you are at Redcoat you just have to go for it and at least split an order of onion rings with your friend.)

So when I got Rocco Dispirito's cookbook, "Now Eat This!" and I saw that he had a healthier version of mozzarella cheese sticks I could not wait to try it. Well, actually he called them, "Crispy Mozzarella Sticks Fra Diavolo" which seems like a very silly name for FRIED CHEESE. But, Mr. Dispirito I am very thankful for the recipe because it was great. Do these taste like real fried mozzarella sticks? No. But they were really good and they don't come with the guilt.

Since I am alone today (my hubby took the tots to my in-laws, "ahhh...") I only made enough for just one serving because there is no way I would have left any of these guys behind. Here's how you make them...


  • 2 low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks = 4 pp (if you have kids around you probably have these in your fridge right now.)
  • 1 T Whole Wheat flour = 0 pp (I put 1 T in the dish put I only used about 1 t)
  • 1 egg white, beaten = 0 pp
  • 2 T Italian bread crumbs = 2 pp (Rocco uses whole wheat panko)
  • 2 T pizza sauce for dipping = 0 pp
  • Oil oil cooking spray
  • Seasonings
  • Total for 4 sticks = 6 pp
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Cut 2 mozzarella sticks in half & dredge in flour.
  • Add the mozzarella sticks to the beaten egg white & toss.
  • Coat with bread crumbs. Use your fingers to really press the bread crumbs into the cheese.
  • Spread the cheese sticks on a wire cooling rack that is inserted into a sheet pan, see picture below. This is a technique that Rocco uses for "faux frying". Spray cheese sticks lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Season with garlic powder & salt.
  • Rocco says to bake these for 15 minutes but mine only took 8 minutes. You have to really watch these because when they are ready the cheese with start oozing out of them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekend Weigh-in: Shakin' in My Tinkerbell Slippers?

  • 8 hour one-way road trip alone with my 2 tots.
  • 8 day visit with family.
  • Many glasses of wine with my Mom & sister.
  • And 1 early-3rd birthday fairy party.
  • = a diet disaster?

After an 8 hour one-way drive and 8 days on the road visiting family with my 2 tots I was a bit scared for my weigh-in today. Since I was away from home for a week, I missed a meeting and a weigh-in last week. I also didn't do the best job tracking my daily food intake. But I tried to make healthy choices (thank goodness for Wendy's when you are on the road) and I definitely ate better than I normally would have for this kind of trip.

Today at the meeting, I was pleasantly surprised by a 4 pound weight loss. (I actually made the scale lady weigh me twice.)

It has been 11 weeks since I started at Weight Watchers and I am feeling great. It does require some extra planning but it is worth it because my whole family is eating healthier.

I haven't posted much lately because I have tried a few duds this week. I do have a few things in the pipeline though:

  • My hubby and I made the pork marsala together tonight and I forced him to measure the ingredients (I am becoming quite the Diet Diva). I am going to post the recipe soon with the pp values.
  • I bought some kale so now I have to cook it before it goes bad in my crisper drawer. I think I am going to try kale chips. I let you know if the tots are fooled by this one.
  • I have two new cookbooks to try out. One is a Weight Watchers cookbook and the other is by Rocco Dispirito.
I hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bedtime Snack

Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
3 Weight Watcher Points Plus

I have always wanted to try a balsamic reduction. I don't know why I was so intimidated by the process because it was really easy. I wouldn't have guessed that my first would be for dessert but it was good.

I used my new dark chocolate balsamic from the Olive Grove. If you live in the area you should check them out. I love their balsamic vinegars and you can't beat balsamic because it is 0 pp!!!

The sauce was really thick and syrupy. If you like things really sweet you might want to add in some sugar before you reduce it. This would also taste really good on fresh berries.

  • 1/2 cup of Edy's Slow Churned Ice cream = 3 pp
  • Dark Chocolate Balsamic reduction = 0 pp

I used the directions from this site to do my reduction.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spinach, Garlic & Mushroom Pizza

Spinach, Garlic & Mushroom Pizza
4 Weight Watcher Points Plus for one slice (1/8th of pizza)

Here is my latest healthy pizza! I used my whole wheat pizza dough recipe for this pizza and cooked it on the pizza pizazz.

  • Whole wheat pizza dough = 23 pp
  • Sauteed Spinach & Garlic = 2 pp (for 2 t of olive oil)
  • Mushrooms = 0 pp
  • Sauce = 0 pp (I use store bought sauce)
  • 1 Cup of Sargento Mozzarella Cheese = 8 pp
  • Total = 33 pp
  • 4 pp for 1/8th of the pizza

  • Saute 3 cloves of sliced garlic in 2 t of olive oil until they begin to slightly brown and smell yummy. I want to try even more garlic next time because I love garlic. Add spinach and wilt.
  • Assemble pizza.
  • Cook however you prefer. I used my pizza pizazz. 7 minutes on just the bottom and 15-18 on dual.
I eat mine with my new fav Sriacha HOT chili sauce drizzled on top.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fish on Fridays: Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes & Sweet Potato Wedges
8 Weight Watcher Points Plus (4 pp for crab cakes & 4 pp for fries)

During Lent I am trying to cook new fish dishes on Friday. I am hoping to find some new favorites that I can use all year long. This one was a hit!

Crab Cakes

I used Gina's skinny recipe for crab cakes. I didn't make her sauce. Instead, I drizzled the crab cakes with some Sriacha HOT (there is a reason they put that part in all caps) Chili sauce, which I am in love with. (Thanks Dad for introducing this to me.) Substituting the chili sauce reduced her recipe by 1 pp making the crab cakes 4 pp per cake instead of 5 pp.

Sweet Potato Fries

I used my sweet potato fry recipe except I cut the fries into wedges instead of fries. I actually liked the wedges better.

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