Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unfried Chicken & Idaho Oven Fries

My parents got a hold of my May/June issue of Weight Watchers magazine and saw these recipes. They were really excited about trying them. I was really proud of them because they usually stick to fad dieting and they don't typically care for altering recipes to make them healthy. The stepdad acted like he didn't care for it but I think he really did. The chicken could have used a little more seasoning, but it still tasted good. Nice and crunchy, and still juicy. Both my mom, my husband, and I liked it.

Unfried Chicken

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large egg whites
1 1/3 cup corn flake crumbs (It took almost a whole box of flakes to make 1 1/3 cups of crumbs!)
4 chicken drumsticks, skinned (about 1 lb)
4 chicken thighs, skinned (about 1 lb)
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
1/4 cup fat free buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large shallow baking pan with foil. Place a wire rack on the pan and spray with cooking spray.

Put the flour on a plate. Lightly beat the egg whites in a shallow dish. Put the crumbs on a separate plate. Mix the chicken, salt, and pepper in a bowl; stir in the buttermilk. Dip the chicken, 1 piece at a time, in the the flour, then the eggs, then the crumbs.

Put the chicken on the rack and lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown and cook through, about 45 minutes. Do not turn.

1 serving = 1 leg or thigh @ 7 points.

331 calories, 9 g fat, 29 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 33 g protein

Idaho Oven Fries

4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup

Place a rack in the lowest position in the oven. Preheat to 450 degrees F.

Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges. Toss the potatoes with the oil on a heavy rimmed baking sheet and arrange each one, flat side down, in a single layer.

Bake without turning until the bottoms are deep golden and crisp, about 20 minutes; flip the potatoes onto the other flat side. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, serve with ketchup.

1 serving = 8 fries + 2 Tbsp ketchup @ 3 points

166 cals, 4 g fat, 32 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein

Monday, April 20, 2009

Corn & Potato Chowder

Soup is very filling. I can eat one bowl of soup and feel super stuffed. I think that it is the effect of the hot liquid. And this soup is loaded with veggies and dairy.

The husband liked his a lot, even though I didn't get around to adding some chicken to his like I planned. He also ate one bowl and was full.

The recipe is from Cooking Light (via

Corn and Potato Chowder

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups prechopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onions, divided (about 1 bunch)
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound baking potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper and 3/4 cup green onions, and sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

Increase heat to high; add corn, water, seafood seasoning, thyme, red pepper, and potatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat, and stir in half-and-half, chopped parsley, and salt. Place about 1 1/2 cups soup in each of 4 bowls; sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese and 1 tablespoon green onions.

Yield: 4 servings @ 7 WW Points each

CALORIES 343 (27% from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 6.4g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.5g); IRON 2.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 41mg; CALCIUM 219mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53.3g; SODIUM 654mg; PROTEIN 11.5g; FIBER 7g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2006

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Creamy Spinach Mushroom Skillet Enchiladas

Attention. Please stop what you're doing and make this NOW. It's that delicious. It was fast and pretty easy and just plain scrumptious. If you love Tex-Mex flavors, the green sauce is perfect. If not, the green sauce is still perfect. Well I guess it depends on the kind you buy. The kind I got was local, but I'm sure you can find an awesome green sauce for when you make it. Because you are going to make it. Right?

My only substitution was Laughing Cow garlic and herb cheese wedges instead of the cream cheese. Pretty much the same thing. I just didn't want a whole brick of cream cheese laying around when I can eat the Laughing Cow on other things. I suppose I could with cream cheese, but I wouldn't. It would just go to waste.

Really though, please make this! It's vegetarian and only 5 Weight Watchers Points per serving, including the sour cream. It's very adaptable. I'm already dreaming up new veggie/salsa combinations for when I make it next. And if you're not veggie, well...add some cooked shredded chicken to the filling. Or some shrimp. Or...

Recipe is from Cooking Light (via

Creamy Spinach Mushroom Skillet Enchiladas

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach (about 6 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light cream cheese with onions and chives
1 (16-ounce) bottle green salsa, divided
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Preheat broiler.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes. Add spinach and salt; cook for 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring frequently. Drain; return mushroom mixture to pan. Add cream cheese; cook 2 minutes or until cream cheese melts, stirring frequently. Place the mushroom mixture in a bowl; set aside.

Heat 1 cup salsa in a saucepan over low heat. Dredge both sides of each tortilla in warm salsa using tongs, and stack the tortillas on a plate. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon mushroom mixture into center of each tortilla; fold in half, and arrange in skillet, overlapping slightly. Top with remaining salsa, and sprinkle with cheese. Wrap handle of skillet with foil, and broil enchiladas for 4 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with sour cream, and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 enchiladas and 1 tablespoon sour cream) @ 5 WW Points each

CALORIES 273 (29% from fat); FAT 8.7g (sat 3.6g,mono 2.9g,poly 1g); IRON 2.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 15mg; CALCIUM 330mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.4g; SODIUM 806mg; PROTEIN 10.1g; FIBER 6.7g

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2001

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yellow Squash Gratin

This is tasty. I really like it. It's not difficult to make at all. It might need a little something, although I'm not sure what. I did only use 1 cup of onions though, so maybe that could be it? Who knows. Make sure you get some of the topping in each bite...amazing. I used 1/2 cup of store bought bread crumbs because I have a package I am trying to use up. I made mine into 6 servings so I could have a bigger piece since it is serving as my entree.

The husband is working late so I don't have a review from him. The husband liked it! He scraped off the topping though. *gasp*

Yellow Squash Gratin

Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 cups yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 pounds)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain rice
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
3 large eggs, lightly beaten1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add squash; sauté 7 minutes or just until tender. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, salt, thyme, and pepper. Add rice, Gruyère, and eggs to squash mixture, stirring until well combined. Spoon the squash mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until fine crumbs measure 1/2 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and butter, tossing to combine. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over squash mixture. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and filling is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

CALORIES 247 (29% from fat); FAT 8g (sat 4.1g,mono 2.5g,poly 0.6g); IRON 2.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 98mg; CALCIUM 220mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.4g; SODIUM 599mg; PROTEIN 11.2g; FIBER 4.9g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2004

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eggplant Rollatini with Tomato-Basil Sauce

Okay, this was really super good, although it was a pain in the tail to make. The recipe is labeled "moderate" for difficulty and I had some moderate difficulty with it!

First I sliced the eggplant too thin. I think it was too thin because two of the pieces ended up burning. So I lost a serving...but that's okay because I'm only feeding two of us and I didn't want any leftovers.

If you are new to cooking or are cooking while doing something else (phone, TV, computer, whatever) make sure to have everything set out and prepared before you start. This includes chopping all the veggies and getting all the pans prepped. There's going to be a lot going on at one time.

Another thing that went wrong for me is that our can opener (manual) decided to stop working. I don't even know how that is possible, but it happened. It's kind of a bummer because it is a KitchenAid can opener and I always thought they would last forever, but this is going in the trash. Because of that I couldn't open the crushed tomatoes. Luckily I had a small can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato soup that both had those little pull tabs on them. I think it turned out just fine.

The husband seemed skeptical at first when I told him what we were having. I served his with a grilled chicken breast. He loved it! He scarfed it all down proclaiming "Hey, this is really good!".

Let's see, other substitutions I made: I used fat free ricotta instead of part skim. This dropped the Points to 3 per serving! And I forgot to buy fresh basil (doh!) so I just used dried. The recipe serves 4 with 2 rollatini things each, but since I was eating this as an entree, I ate three at a total of 5 Points (including my sub of fat free ricotta). Okay, on with the recipe.

Recipe from Weight Watchers:

Eggplant Rollatini

Serves 4 @ 4 Points each

2 medium raw eggplant, tops & bottoms removed, sliced lengthwise into 8 planks
1 tsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh torn basil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 small zucchini, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Lay eggplant in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and lightly coat tops with cooking spray. Bake, flipping once, until golden brown, about 10 minutes per side. Remove from oven and set aside.

To make sauce, place oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic; sauté until it begins to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes; stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Add torn basil, stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.

To make filling, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and zucchini; sauté until onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic and cook 1 minute more; spoon onion mixture into a small bowl to cool. In another small bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, chopped basil, and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan; stir to combine. Add cooled onion mixture; stir to combine. Add egg, salt and pepper; stir to combine.

To make rollatini, reduce oven to 400ºF. Spoon 3 tablespoons of sauce in bottom of an 8- X 8-inch glass or nonstick metal baking dish and swirl to coat bottom with sauce. On a clean cutting board, place 1 slice of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of filling at the narrow end of eggplant and roll up; place in prepared baking dish, seam side-down. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices; arrange in a single layer in dish. Spoon remaining 1/2 cup of sauce and remaining tablespoon of Parmesan over eggplant. Bake until sauce bubbles, about 10 to 15 minutes. Yields 2 pieces of rollatini per serving.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Au Gratin Potatoes

I liked this a lot and so did the husband. It is supposed to be a side dish, but I ate it as an entree with a side of spinach. The husband ate a smaller portion as a side (along with some spinach) to his meatloaf. I used less cheese (only 3/4 cup) since he isn't a fan of it and he said it was fine. I also tasted the sauce before baking and it really needed something else (it was pretty bland) so I added some nutmeg. That made it delicious! Also, the recipe says to use a 2 qt. casserole dish. I used a 2.5 liter dish, which is about 2.6 quarts and it was almost full. Go with a bigger dish.

Recipe from Weight Watchers:

Au Gratin Potatoes

Serves 8 @ 3 Points
Serves 4 @ 7 Points

2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 2 qt casserole dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until brown. Sprinkle in flour and then slowly add milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add potatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat. Bring to a boil. Stir in 3/4 c. cheese. Pour into casserole dish.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Put lid on dish and bake until potatoes are fork tender, 10-20 minutes more. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining 1/4 c. cheese on top and place under broiler for 5 minutes.

Let set for 5 minutes, slice into servings, serve.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pasta Primavera

Quite simple and tasty. I like this dish because of the heaping portions! And there are so many veggies in it, you can knock out 2 veggie servings. You can use any pasta, I just happened to come across some cute, colorful corkscrew pasta that is made with veggies. I also topped mine with some grated parmigiano reggiano. It's a vegetarian dish; the husband ate it with a piece of Italian turkey sausage and cleaned his plate.

The recipe is from Weight Watchers:

Pasta Primavera

Serves 4 @ 6 points; 2 1/4 cup serving size


8 oz. uncooked whole wheat pasta
1/8 tsp salt
4 tsp olive oil, divided
8 oz asparagus, cut into chunks
4 oz sugar snap peas
1 small yellow summer squash, sliced into half moons
1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil (I used a couple dashes of dried basil)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water with 1/8 tsp salt. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Save 1/3 cup pasta water.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat; add asparagus, squash and sugar snap peas. Cook, stirring often, until almost crisp tender - about 4 minutes. Stir in artichoke hearts and olives, cook over low heat, stirring, 1 minute.

Add pasta, 1/3 cup pasta water, and basil to the vegetable mixture. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tex-Mex Rice & Bean Casserole

This is a pretty good vegetarian dish. It's not super filling and could use some more seasoning. I topped it with some mild salsa and it was just fine. I'll probably make this again. The husband took one bite and did not want anymore. He didn't like it. It is important to note that he tends to assume he doesn't like anything with beans and cheese in it though.

Recipe from Weight Watchers:

Tex-Mex Rice & Bean Casserole

4 servings @ 6 Points each
6 servings @ 4 Points each

1 cup canned yellow corn, drained
1 Tbsp diced green chilies
15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice (fresh or leftover)
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican style cheese
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp chopped scallions
2 Tbsp shredded reduced-fat Mexican style cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2-qt glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine first 9 ingredients. Stir in the scallions.

Bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese. Bake another 10 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to firm up. Slice into squares and serve.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

So how long did y'all think I could go without totally screwing something up? I had a good streak of a few days. Maybe I shouldn't say 'totally' because it was still edible and actually tasted okay. That's a miracle considering I accidentally omitted oh ONLY FOUR ingredients.

And so the picture doesn't help to convince you that this did taste good. I really do hope to get a better camera soon. Then maybe my mishaps in the kitchen will at least look like they taste good!

It all started when I threw the potatoes on to boil. That went fine and while I waited I thought I'd watch a litte Oprah. She was doing a show on motherhood, and while I'm not a mother, they were interviewing Heather Armstrong from Dooce and that caught my attention. So I forgot about the potatoes. There's a TV in the kitchen, which I was watching, so I have absolutely no idea how the heck I could forget about a pot that might boil over only about 36 inches away. Anyways, that got me all huffy.

Then I chopped up the veggies and decided to throw them in the pan while I was preparing the mashed potatoes. So my mind was fixated on fake-buttery, non-fat sour-creamy, still pretty delicious mashed potatoes and I didn't even grab the right size pan. But I didn't figure that out until I went to throw the ground turkey in said miniscule pan. Way to pay attention!

I managed to shove all the meat into the pan and I seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. You'll notice that garlic powder is not on the ingredients list, but how was I supposed to know that? By that time I had completely stopped looking at the recipe. I've made shepherd's pie before, how hard could it be?

Yeah, it's not hard at all. But you do forget a whole portion of the recipe sometimes when you totally disregard it. After browning the turkey, I just dumped it into the waiting casserole dish without giving it a second thought. I plopped on the mashed taters and smeared them around until they were pretty and threw some paprika on top (also not in the recipe).

While it was in the oven, I got to thinking...I could have sworn that recipe called for chicken broth when I was making my grocery list. I ran back downstairs and consulted the recipe and lo and behold I realized I screwed up. So I didn't use any rosemary or thyme. I didn't use any flour and broth to make a sauce. Oops.

And then it was done. I pulled it out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes so that I could cut a nice piece for the picture without it all falling apart. And then I took a bite. Still pretty tasty. How bad could some meat, veggies and mashed potato heaven be? But I'm guessing it was supposed to have something "extra" that I neglected to give it. Either way, the husband will never notice. I know I liked it. I may or may not have had seconds.

Here's the recipe that maybe you can manage to follow. It's from Weight Watchers.

Classic Shepherd's Pie

POINTS® Value: 5
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 25 min
Cooking Time: 42 min
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

2 large potato(es), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
1 tbsp reduced-calorie margarine
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup(s) onion(s), chopped
2 medium carrot(s), diced
2 medium stalk(s) celery, diced
1 pound(s) uncooked ground turkey breast
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp rosemary, fresh, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or beef broth


Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and pour in enough water to cover potatoes. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain potatoes, transfer to a large bowl and add sour cream and margarine; mash until smooth, season to taste with salt and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add flour, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Add broth and bring to a simmer; simmer until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

Transfer turkey mixture to a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. Spread mashed potatoes over top and using the back of a spoon, make decorative swirls over the top. Bake until potatoes are golden, about 30 minutes. Slice into 6 pieces and serve.

Garden Style Lasagna

I found this recipe on the myrecipes website. It's a site that has a searchable database for the Cooking Light magazine as well as a few others. This is a Cooking Light recipe. I've modified it a little. I'm going to be lazy here and let you click the link for the recipe.

My changes:
-I used only 3 cups of skim milk, and it worked out perfectly.
-I used a 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach (the store was out of those little 10 oz packages).
-I used fat free ricotta instead of cottage cheese because cottage cheese grosses me out and this is lasagna and there's no reason not to use ricotta.
-I used reduced fat mozzarella cheese
-I added garlic powder to the spinach/white sauce mixture

The husband really, really liked this. I made him a grilled chicken breast to go with it because he is a mega carnivore. He devoured the lasagna first and said it was filling enough by itself because it's so hearty. He didn't even eat the whole piece of chicken.

I liked it too. I do think it needs more seasoning though, even with the added garlic powder. I have been noticing that since I got really sick a few weeks ago that things just don't taste the same anymore so that could be it. Bottom line, taste for seasoning often.

This is a keeper! I love that it is a vegetarian dish that the husband actually likes. I'm thinking about cutting meat out of my diet because I typically don't like it. For those that care, it is 8 WW Points for EIGHT servings. The CL recipe from the link says 12 servings, but I like a big piece of lasagna. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Old recipe new again

I'm going to post an old recipe from an old blog on here because I love it so much. I'm thinking of making it again soon. Here it is:

Thank you thank you thank you to Ivonne over at Cream Puffs in Venice for posting this delightful recipe. It is one of two recipes I’ve been dying to recreate since our honeymoon. This one is spot on. Note to self: Do not ever make more than one batch of this at a time…if that occurs, I will be sure to die a gluttonous, joy-ridden death. But I will have a smile on my face.

I made a few tweaks to the recipe just so I could use what I had on hand. Here’s my version:

Creamy Baked Pasta

1/2 lb rigatoni pasta
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 slice bacon, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 oz grated Asiago cheese
2 oz grated Parmigiano Reggianio cheese
salt & pepper

Start a large pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for 6 or 7 minutes.

Heat oil in skillet and add bacon. Cook until crispy and remove from pan. Reserve 1 Tbsp of drippings from pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the cream, salt & pepper to taste and the cheeses. After the pasta cooks for 6-7 minutes, drain and combine with cream mixture.

Pour into baking dish and bake in a 500 degrees oven for about 12 minutes, or until the pasta is slightly browned and the cream mixture is bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.

Serves 4.

Greek night!

I saw a recipe for a Greek salad that I wanted to try. I figured that I could just grill up some chicken and throw it in a pita with some tzatziki sauce to go with it. Nothing fancy. Only I didn't know how to make tzatziki sauce.

I asked around and Marion, Kate, and Kyra were able to help me. I gathered the necessary ingredients:

0% Fage (I only used one container)
Fresh dill
Cucumber (I used half for this and the other half for the Greek salad)
Garlic (not pictured)
Olive oil (not pictured)

First I peeled the cuke and then scooped out the seeds. I did not buy a seedless cucumber because this one was HUGE and only 54 cents. Then I got out my trusty Microplane. I have three Microplanes. I have the long skinny one that you always see them using on the cooking shows. And I have this one and another one like it. This one is the Medium Ribbon Grater. The other one is a zester that works much like the long skinny one only it is like a paddle like the one pictured. The paddle shaped ones have this apparatus that you can slide onto it with a little cubby for the food you're grating and a cover for that. It's so you can grate the food all the way to the bottom without adding zest of finger to your recipe (gross, I know...sorry!).

After all that, place all the grated cucumber on some coffee filters. This is to get all the moisture out. If you don't have coffee filters, here are some other options: fine mesh seive, cheesecloth, or a paper towel even. You can also sprinkle the cucumber with some salt to get the moisture to drain faster, but I find that cucumber drains really fast anyways. I had to switch filters out for fresh ones every few minutes because they'd get soaked. I used 6 filters, 2 at a time. I set the filter over a measuring cup because I'm a nerd and I wanted to know how much liquid would come out of half of a large cucumber. You know, for when I make a recipe that calls for cucumber juice. (By the way it was about 1/4 cup. I knew you wanted to know).

Chop up some dill. Place the cucumber, dill, salt, pepper, about a clove of minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and the juice of half a lemon in a mini food chopper (or a bowl and use an immersion blender) and pulse until it's all blended up. Mix in the Fage and stir it all until blended.

And that's it. You've got tzatziki!

Here's the Greek salad. The recipe is from Weight Watchers. It was pretty good. I might make it again.

Chopped Greek Salad

POINTS® Value: 3
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 15 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy


2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
2 tbsp water
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
3 tbsp dill, or mint, fresh, chopped
3 tbsp scallion(s), sliced
1 1/2 cup(s) tomato(es), ripe, diced (about 7 small tomatoes)
1 1/2 cup(s) cucumber(s), diced, seedless (about 1/2 large cucumber)
8 medium olive(s), Kalamata, pitted, chopped
6 cup(s) lettuce, Romaine, shredded
1/4 cup(s) crumbled feta cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper until blended; stir in dill and scallions. Add tomatoes, cucumber and olives; toss to mix and coat.

Place 1 1/2 cups of lettuce on each of 4 salad plates; top each with about 3/4 cup of tomato mixture and then 1 tablespoon of feta. Spoon any dressing left in bottom of bowl over salads. Yields 1 salad per serving.

For the chicken pita, I just grilled up some chicken breast, sliced it and stuffed it in a pita with tomatoes and tzatziki.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chicken Jambalaya

Jambalaya. Say it with me now! Jam-ba-lay-a. It's just a fun word to say. And yes, I am a nerd. Thanks for asking.

I was kinda thinking this recipe wouldn't turn out very well because they never really do for me. But I tried it anyways. It turned out delicious AND I even took a bunch of pictures so I can walk you through some steps. You're welcome.

First I seasoned some chicken with salt and pepper and grilled it up. Then cut it into chunks. I used salt and pepper, you can use whatever you like. Also, cook the chicken however you like. The grill is the most convenient for me.

While the chicken was on the grill, I diced up some turkey summer sausage (Oscar Mayer makes one that I think is just yummy).

I also diced up one large onion, one green bell pepper, and a big stalk of celery. This is referred to as the "holy trinity" in Cajun cooking. If you switch out the pepper for some carrot and you want to be all fancy and impress your friends, you can call that a "mire poix" (pronounce it 'meer pwa').

I sprayed a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cooked up the sausage over high heat. Then I added the trinity and sauteed that until tender. Turn down the heat and add some seasonings (thyme, cayenne, salt, pepper) and minced garlic. I actually used chile powder instead of cayenne pepper and sage instead of thyme. I didn't have what was called for so I winged (a word?) it. Yeah, I'm brave like that. Probably why I have so many disasters... Let that cook up a bit, stirring it often because you don't want to burn the garlic. If you burn the garlic it'll make the whole dish taste kinda icky. And that goes for all food, not just this. Then you're gonna add in the chicken, broth, tomatoes, and a cup of white rice. Yes, those are off brand tomatoes. And that's instant rice. Stop judging me.

Then you just bring it up to a simmer, cover it, and let it cook for about 20 minutes. It's so very tasty. I even ate the chicken out of it. I usually pick out the chicken because I am not a huge fan. But it was good in this. The husband hasn't tried it yet because he had a work thing this evening. But he's on his way home now to check it out.

Here's the recipe. It's from Weight Watchers.

Chicken Jambalaya

POINTS® Value: 7
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 25 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy


1 spray(s) cooking spray
2 1/2 oz raw turkey sausage, chopped
1 large onion(s), chopped
1 medium celery, stalk, chopped
1 small green pepper(s), chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
2 medium chicken breast, cooked, skinless, cubed (about 2 cups)
28 oz canned tomatoes, whole, plum, peeled with juice
2 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth
1 cup(s) uncooked white rice, long-grain

Coat a large, nonstick saucepan with cooking spray. Over high heat, sauté sausage until crispy on edges. Add onion, celery and green pepper; sauté until tender.

Reduce heat and stir in cayenne, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic; sauté until garlic is fragrant.

Stir in chicken, tomatoes, broth and rice. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An English Disaster!!

So I'm back from a long hiatus due to just not really cooking. And what else would happen when I finally plan a dinner....Disaster!

I planned on making fish 'n chips. I figured folks might like a review of a lightened up version since it is Lent and all. Well people, either help me figure out how to fix this up or just skip it. It was not delicious and it was indeed a disaster. Well the fish part, the chips are salvageable.

When I was mixing up the batter, it was the consistency of wet sand. I had a bad feeling from the beginning but I figured I'd stick with it. I finished the preparation and threw the food in the oven. Flipped everything halfway and I was impressed that the "batter" actually stayed on the fish.

Of course the batter stuck on the fish, it is the edible equivalent of GLUE! It also didn't taste like anything. Bland and chewy is not good for what is supposed to be a delicious dinner of fish 'n chips.

The chips weren't so bad though. I like the vinegar taste, but I could have used more just because I really like vinegar. Do you think if I soaked the potatoes in the vinegar for longer it would make a difference? Just a thought.

Any suggestions on how to fix this batter? I'm not really keen on trying this again though.
Recipe from Weight Watchers:
Cornmeal-Battered Fish and Chips

POINTS® Value: 8
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 18 min
Cooking Time: 35 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

A crunchy, cornmeal-herb batter (made light with fat-free milk) puts this English specialty back on the menu. Together with fries coated in vinegar, salt and pepper...brilliant!

1 spray(s) cooking spray
1 1/2 cup(s) uncooked yellow cornmeal, for coating
1 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/4 pound(s) uncooked cod, or haddock fillets (four 5 oz pieces)
2 tbsp uncooked yellow cornmeal, for dusting fish
2 large potato(es), Idaho, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
2 tbsp white vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal, milk, zest, basil and oregano; mix well to make a thick batter. Dust fish with additional 2 tablespoons of cornmeal; add fish to batter and turn to coat both sides. Place fish on prepared baking sheet and spoon over any remaining batter, making an even coating.

Place potatoes in a large bowl and add vinegar, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange potatoes next to fish on baking sheet.

Bake, carefully flipping fish once, until potatoes and fish are fork-tender and cornmeal batter just starts to crack, about 30 to 35 minutes. Yields 1 fish fillet and 1/2 potato per serving.