Friday, February 27, 2009

Chicken Parmigiana

Mmmm... cheeeeeese. I found this recipe online today at Unfortunately, I can't link to it because it's under the Members Only section of the site. I discovered a whole new world or WW recipes by signing up for their Monthly Pass. The website has a great tracking tool that keeps track of my points for me. I am still experimenting with it, but so far I'm in love.

2 four ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Cooking spray
1 egg white, beaten
1/4 cup italian bread crumbs
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1/4 part skin mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tsp Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray.

Place egg white in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs with Italian seasoning and salt; pour into another shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg whites; turn to coat. Dip chicken in bread crumb mixture; turn to thoroughly coat.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and add oil; heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken and cook until lightly browned and no longer pink in center, about 4 minutes per side.

Pour 1/2 cup of sauce into prepared baking dish; place chicken in dish and pour remaining sauce evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with cheeses and bake until chicken is cooked through and cheese is bubbly, about 25 minutes.

WW Points per Serving: 5 Points

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spinach and Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Two important things... First, if you haven't figured it out yet, Matt and I have an obsession with cheese. Second, do not be fooled, my little banditos, by the fancy name of this dish. It is just about the easiest thing I have made in a long time!

Inspired by Joelen's Spinach and Feta Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, I bought some low fat Blue Cheese Crumbles and had some fresh spinach around. I must say that this dish was absolutely delicious! The creaminess and intense flavor of the blue cheese paired perfectly with the mild pork. The ingredients in my recipe below are slightly different than Joelen's but the method is the same.

tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
3 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed
One pork tenderloin
1/4 cup low fat blue cheese crumbles
Kitchen string
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and let wilt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cut through the pork tenderloin lengthwise to within a half-inch of cutting all the way through. Open up the pork like a book and pound out each side until it’s about a quarter-inch thick. Distribute the spinach over each tenderloin and top with the cheese.

Roll the tenderloin jelly-roll style from the long side, and tie with string in 5 places. Season the outside of each tenderloin with salt & pepper. Let stand 30 minutes (I omitted this because we were starving).
Roast the pork until a thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 150°F, about 35 minutes. To serve, remove strings from the pork and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Be sure to check Joelen's blog for a killer sauce that she made for this recipe. We were too hungry to make the sauce.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I've been tagged!

I have been tagged in a little blogger picture game by Lynsey at The Foster Following.

The rules: Open the 6th picture folder on your computer, open the 6th photo and blog it. Write something about it. Then tag 6 more people to do the same.

This picture was taken at an event on August 30, 2007 that I was invited to, to check out a new hotel property. I brought Matt and my parents. This is me with Greg Kelser, basketball player from the 1979 Championship Spartan Basketball Team. I definitely had a case of celebrity awe... until the next morning (aka football Saturday) and I had Matt snap this one...

Yes, that's Tom Izzo, coach of the Spartan men's basketball team!!! I really need to get this one framed!

And for my 6 people to tag:
1. Molly at You're Talking Jibberish
2. Amy at Life in the Junction
3. Ameron at Sweet Country Lovin'
4. Marie-Etta at Adventures in Holy Matrimony
5. Anne Marie at A. Day. In. The. Life. Of. Anne. Marie
6. Renee at A Taste of Life

And since I like to reminisce, here's some additional pictures from that weekend...

My dad sorta likes the Spartan cheerleaders.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Balsamic Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

I felt the need to eat something healthy after the long weekend we had. I had this recipe on hand from Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes. It was the perfect thing to have as we watched the Oscars Red Carpet on Sunday evening. The chicken was really moist and the balsamic added a nice sweetness.

2 four oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
1 red (or orange in our case) bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup carrots, sliced in half long way
1/2 onion, chopped in large chunks
5-6 button mushrooms, cut in half
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh rosemary - we used dried
2 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
2 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 425°. Wash and dry the chicken well with a paper towel. Combine all the ingredients together and using your hands and arrange in a very large roasting pan. The vegetables should not touch chicken or it will steam. All ingredients should be spread out in a single layer, if necessary use two baking dishes or disposable tins to achieve this. Bake for 35 minutes.

Weight Watchers points per serving: 6 points

Monday, February 23, 2009

The 10 Healthiest Foods You've Never Tried

While perusing my daily email, I came across a great article from that highlights ten foods not commonly eaten by Americans that are total nutritional powerhouses. Here's the list, followed by the link to the full story:
1. Kiwi
2. Broccoli rabe
3. Brazil nuts
4. Edamame - I am in love with this stuff!
5. Red lentils
6. Quinoa
7. Canned salmon
8. Prawns
9. Whole grain and multigrain pastas
10. Pomegranate

Link to story:

It's so much fun to see the amazing nutritional values on some of my favorite foods, but I have to ask... Where's the kale???? Jen over at Living in the Heartland raves about it and has made me a complete fan of this delicious, nutritious stuff, as well. I think I need to write ABC...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shrimp Ravioli with Carmelized Shallot Cream Sauce

Still recovering a bit from our night out on Friday, I was craving something carb-y and cheesy. I googled shrimp ravioli and found this easy recipe, using wonton wrappers for the ravioli. I completely modified the original recipe's sauce, which was for a basil cream sauce. Carmelized shallot just seemed like it fit better for the mood I was in. The sauce was absolutely fantastic. The carmelized shallot had such a sweet, rich texture.

The wonton wrappers worked good, but didn't have the "authentic" ravioli texture, like real pasta would. That being said, I don't have a pasta press, so the wonton wrappers were a very nice substitute. And I had planned to shred some fresh parmesan over the pasta, but like I said, Friday was a rough night and I totally forgot to add it.

Now, I want to make wonton soup. Too bad I used the rest of our ground pork on the Thai Noodles and Pork dinner from a few nights ago... I'm a mess.

My modified recipe is below...

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 lb deveined, peeled, shrimp (if you have cooked shrimp, even better!)
4 oz fresh goat cheese
1 large egg yolk, reserve the egg white
1/2 half and half
1 shallot, sliced
1/4 C white wine
24 wonton wrappers, or as many as you need

If your shrimp are uncooked, cook up in a skillet with the clove of crushed garlic and a little butter until no longer translucent.

Chop the shrimp into tiny pieces. Mix shrimp, goat cheese, egg yolk and garlic (if you didn't cook it with the shrimp) in bowl.

Sautee the sliced shallot for 8-10 minutes, or until the shallot is medium to dark brown. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan.

Add the creamer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced.

Place half of wonton wrappers on work surface. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon shrimp mixture to each. Brush edges with egg white (or water) and fold over to form triangles. Repeat with remaining wontons. Cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water about 3 minutes.

Serve with warm sauce. NOTE: I may toss the pasta with the sauce next time to prevent the ravioli from sticking together when plated.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thai Noodle and Pork bowl

Peanut Butter, Pork and Pasta... OH MY! I had some leftover ground pork in the freezer from the Parmesan Herb Meatballs and was craving something asian-inspired. This dish was incredibly fast to make and tasted great. I will definitely be making this again soon!

5 ounces pasta
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp lite soy sauce
4-6 oz ground pork
3 scallions
8 baby carrots
1/2 red bell pepper
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, shredded
1 1/2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Cut the scallions into 1-2 inch pieces. Cut the bell pepper into thin strips. Cut the baby carrots in half lengthwise and then cut again lengthwise.

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta as directed.

In a bowl, mix the broth and soy sauce together.

In a large skillet, cook the ground pork over medium heat until browned and no longer pink.

Add the scallions, carrot, bell pepper, ginger and garlic. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften.

Stir the broth mixture and peanut butter into the pork and veggies. Cook until peanut butter is melted and blended.

Drain the pasta, reserving a half cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss evenly to coast with sauce. Stir in some pasta water if needed to keep the mixture creamy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chicken Fajita Enchiladas

Matt made these for dinner while I was at a meeting. How nice to come home and have this fantastic dinner ready to eat!

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 packet enchilada mix
1 can of green enchilada sauce
1/2 cup 2% cheese (cheddar, colby, or colby jack work great)
5 fat free flour tortillas
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/4 sweet onion, diced
Lite sour cream (optional)

Dice the chicken breast and cook in a skillet. Add the peppers and onion and sautee until veggies are slightly soft.

In a saucepan, mix 1/2 cup water with 1/2 of the can of green enchilada sauce and1/2 of the enchilada seasoning packet. Bring to a boil, then simmer to reduce to about half.

Fill the tortillas with the chicken, pepper and onion mixture and spoon the sauce mixture on top. Place seam side down in baking dish

Cover the enchiladas with remaining 1/2 can of the green enchilada sauce.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and top with the cheese. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Top with sour cream.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day Wrap Up

First Valentine’s Day as a married couple is official! We had a very relaxing day. Matt gave me the cutest little Coach wallet with light purple interior. I love it!! What a wonderful husband! I got him a card, not thinking that he would get me something besides a card… I’m lame, I know.

Matt and I decided to save money and stay home this Valentine’s Day. We cooked an absolutely mouth-watering dinner and dessert, followed by a bottle of Pinot Noir and the movie Eagle Eye.

Simple Bruschetta
1 beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped
1/3 to 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbsp good olive oil (I used Fustini’s Manzanillo olive oil)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Fustini’s Pomegranate balsamic vinegar)
Salt and pepper
1/4 to 1/2 fresh baguette, sliced thin

Combine the tomato, onion, olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper (to taste) in a bowl at least an hour prior to serving. This allows the tomato and onion to marinate in the vinegar and olive oil.

Prior to serving, toast the pieces of baguette in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until hard and very lightly browned.

Filet Mignon au Poivre (from Mary Ellen’s blog)
2 five to seven oz. filet mignon
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/4 cup Cognac or other brandy - We used a cheap brandy (I can't recall the brand, but it was around $5.50/pint)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt. Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks. You could also use a pepper grinder, set on the coarsest setting.

Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks to a plate and keep warm in the microwave while making sauce.

Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (1 Tbsp) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining Tbsp of butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated.

Sauteed Kale
1 bunch fresh kale
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper

Begin by removing the stems from the kale and rinsing the leaves in a bowl of cold water to allow any dirt to sink to the bottom. Meanwhile, heat 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet.

Add the crushed garlic and sautee. Add the rinsed and drained kale. BE CAREFUL OF OIL SPATTERS!

Add in your salt and pepper, to taste. Be careful of the salt. It needs VERY LITTLE to effect the flavor. Sadly, I oversalted it. Don’t worry, it was still good. I just had to eat it with a bit of less-seasoned potato.

Serve when kale is wilted, after about 4-6 minutes of sautéing.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 clove garlic, crushed
Olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Extra shallot (if you have any from the filet mignon recipe above)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the potatoes in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with the garlic, salt, pepper and shallots.

Cover with aluminum foil or top of baking dish for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are over 1/2 way done. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and have turned slightly brown.

Chocolate Lava Cakes (from Cooking This and That)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1/3 cup confectioners sugar, plus more for serving
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces - I used 3/4 of a bar of Ghirardelli Espresso Escape (60% cacao)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional) - I omitted because of the type of chocolate I bought
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 6-ounce ramekin.. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments, stirring after each, until melted. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Add chocolate mixture; whisk to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined (do not overmix).

Pour batter into prepared ramekins. (Recipe can be made ahead up to this point.)

Bake until a toothpick inserted 1/2 inch from edge of ramekins comes out clean, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 10 to 12 minutes (do not overbake). Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around inside of ramekins to loosen. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with sugar; serve immediately.

Try to remain conscious despite the urge to fall into a chocolatey, heavenly coma.

Now, the fun part. One of the most rewarding parts of this meal was realizing how inepensive it can be to make a delicious, fancy restaurant meal at home. Here's how you can have a $120 meal for much, MUCH less.

Things on hand...
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Powdered sugar

Things to purchase...
2 five ounce filet mignon steaks ($20/lb) $12
Bottle of Blackstone Pinor Noir (on sale) $8.99
Half and Half creamer $3
1 Shallot $.55
Kale $.89/bunch
1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes @1.99/lb $1
Ghirardelli $2
Cognac $5.50/pint
1 tomato $.50
1 onion $1
Baguette $3


Comparable meal at restaurant...
Bruschetta $8
Blackstone $25
Filet (2) $50
Dessert (2) $12

GRAND TOTAL: $95 +tax+tip = $120

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicken Roll Ups

I saw this recipe in a magazine while I was getting my hair done last week. I can't remember the name of the magazine and I just went fro memory on the ingredients. This dish turned out great. However, I may think of something besides the bread crumbs for coating. It gave the chicken a nice crust, but made it slightly difficult to cut, especially with the soft, cheesy center.

2 thin chicken cutlets (or one large boneless skinless breast, cut lengthwise)
2 Tbsp herb cheese spread (like boursin or rondele. I used Philadephia Cheese Spreads Parmesan with Garlic and Herbs because it was about half the price as the others)
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted (see instructions below)
Bread crumbs
Nonstick cooking spray

To roast the pepper, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the half pepper skin side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until at least some of the skin is blackened. Cool completely and then carefully remove the skin. Most of it should come right off. Slice into thin strips.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet or a heavy saucepan until they are uniform in thickness and thin enough to roll (I'd say about half an inch thick at most).

Spread each piece with about a tablespoon of cheese and top with red pepper.

Starting from the shorter end, roll up and secure chicken with wooden toothpicks. Coat the chicken with nonstick spray and roll in the bread crumbs.

Place the chicken in a baking dish, coated with nonstick spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with your choice of sides. We served this with a cauliflower/kale mix and some potato cakes, made with leftover mashed potatoes. I'm not even going to post the recipe for the mashed potato cakes because I thought they tasted dry and I didn't like them at all. Ozzy endEd up with a nice treat *wink wink*

P.S. Stay tuned to Valentine's Day menu review! Just waiting to get my hands on the camera cord for uploading.

Friday, February 13, 2009

French Onion Soup

Last Christmas, my parents got Matt a cookbook called "Cheese, Please: The cheese lover's ultimate recipe collection." One of our favorite recipes HAS to be the French Onion Soup. It's made with chicken broth instead of beef and I really like the flavor a lot better. And of course, the gruyere cheese is a wonderful complement.

1/4 C butter - we use about 1 Tbsp
2 large onions, sliced
2 tsp flour
4 cups chicken stock – depending on the size of the onions, you may want to add more stock
1/4 C dry white wine
5 oz Gruyere or Emmental cheese, grated
Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 sourdough (or French) baguette, sliced into rounds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onions and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. They must be browned to give the soup a good color.

Stir in the flour and continue to cook until the flour turns a sandy color.

Pour in the stock and wine and bring to a boil, stirring. Season, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Lightly toast the bread. TIP: Watch the bread carefully to avoid burning. Remove from oven and divide the cheese among the pieces of bread. Return to the broiler and heat until the cheese is bubbling.

Pour the soup and place the bread on top. Don’t be afraid to let the bread soak up the soup. It all adds to the flavor.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Margherita Pizza

This is the first time we used our Wilton pizza baking sheet and we loved it! The dough for this is nice and light and airy. Matt said that this is the best pizza he's ever had... with Ranch dressing. He puts Ranch on everything, so I suppose I can't fault him, but he certainly didn't enjoy it in traditional margherita fashion. The pizza dough is from Giada, via Epicurious.

3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups (or more) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 medium beefsteak or plum tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
Extra olive oil
4 oz. fresh mozzarella
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Brush large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil; process until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 1 minute. Transfer to prepared bowl; turn dough in bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes thinly and place in a bowl with 1 tsp salt, crushed garlic and drizzle of olive oil. Also, thinly slice the fresh mozzarella and remove any stems from the fresh basil.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After the dough has risen for an hour, punch dough down. Roll out dough until its desired thickness. Start in center of dough, working outward toward edges but not rolling over them.

Top the dough with the marinated tomatoes, then the basil, then the mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is crispy.

Valentine's Day Dinner Menu

Love is in the air! Matt and I are spending Valentine's Day doing what we love the most... cooking! I am so excited for this menu and will certainly post recipes after the fact. Well, probably not that night... we'll be snugglin'! *wink wink*

First Course
I'm not sure if I'm doing one or not. Don't want to fill up to early!

Main Course
Filet Mignon au Poivre
Roasted Fingerling potatoes
Sauteed kale

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Monday, February 9, 2009

Oven Baked Parmesan Tilapia with Dill Tartar Sauce

So, I am trying to branch out and create more of my own recipes instead of duplicating ones found online or in cookbooks. I browsed a number of tilapia filets today and came up with the recipe below. I am trying to incorporate more fish into our repertoire of meals and Matt has been somewhat leery of the dreaded “fishy” taste. Well, he loved the fish tacos and this one definitely passed the test, too! This fish was delicious and we both loved the intense flavor of the parmesan cheese with the seasoned bread crumbs. We can’t wait to make this one again!

1/2 lb tilapia filets
1/4 C all purpose flour
1 Tbsp caribbean jerk seasoning
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 Cparmesan cheese
1/4 C lite Miracle Whip
2 tsp dill weed (fresh or dried)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Juice of one lime

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small dish, combine with Miracle Whip, dill, mustard and lime juice. Place in the refrigerator to let flavors meld together.

Wash and pat dry the fish filets.

In one bowl, combine the flour and caribbean jerk seasoning. In another, combine the egg and milk. In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Dip the fish in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumb mixture and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish is flaky.

Serve with the dill tartar sauce and sides. We served this with sliced redskin potatoes and cauliflower.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Conversation Heart Sugar Cookies

In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to make some conversation heart cookies using Ashlee's Most Fabulous Sugar Cookie Recipe, found many times on Good Things Catered. I used a combination of royal icing to coat the cookies and buttercream for the writing. Yes, I know I didn't color the writing icing bright pink, but my mom, sister and I concurred that they would be just fine with white writing. The picture above is just a sampling of the cookies. I think we had the most fun coming up with sayings for the cookies. One of my favorites is "Yer Hot" at the top of the plate in the photo.

Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tbsp. lemon zest - I used lime zest and it was a refreshing treat!
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly. Add in vanilla, almond, and lemon zest. Beat for 10 seconds. Add in baking powder and salt, beat again.

Add in flour 1 c. at a time, mix for 15 seconds between each addition. Do not over mix. This process should take about one minute.

Chill dough for up to a week in the fridge, or roll out and cut right away.

Royal Icing (from Joy of Baking)
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Buttercream Frosting (from
This is for 3 servings, modified from the original recipe which is for 12 servings
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.

For piping/writing, place the frosting in a plastic bag. Cut a VERY SMALL hole in one of the corners, remove the air bubbles and begin piping.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mini Meatloafs

"Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf." Just kidding! It's sometime challenging to make recipes because they feed an army and there's only two of us. This meatloaf recipe was perfect because you can make mini loafs for two people, using just half a pound of ground sirloin. The recipe below is for 2 mini loaves, but it can easily be doubled, which would use a whole pound of beef.

1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 lb ground sirloin
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Combine ketchup and mustard, stirring well with a whisk. Reserve 2 tablespoons ketchup mixture. Combine remaining ketchup mixture, beef, and next 6 ingredients (beef through egg) in a large bowl, stirring to combine.

Divide beef mixture into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf; place loaves on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Spread the reserved ketchup mixture evenly over each loaf. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until done. Serve with your choice of side(s). We had mashed potatoes and cauliflower.

WW Points per Serving (one loaf, not including sides): 6 points

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Asian Pork Tenderloin and Veggies

This is one of the simplest, best tasting pork tenderloin recipes EVER! It comes compliments of my Auntie Meg out in Colorado. I made a quick teriyaki sauce for the sugar snap peas and some leftover cabbage.

Pork Tenderloin
One pork tenderloin (apx. 1 lb ,pre-cooked weight, for two people)
1/2 C soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp dark sesame oil

Place the tenderloin in a large ziploc bag with the remaining indredients the day prior to cooking. Marinate overnight.

To cook, sear the meat in a skillet before placing in a 375 oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 150. Allow the meat to sit for 10 minutes after taking out of the oven. This keeps the juices in and finishes cooking the meat.

This is also delicious when cooked on the grill. In fact, we prefer it that way, but it was a whopping 15 degrees today. And, besides, we need a new grill. I hope by the time we're ready to buy one that we'll be in a house where we can actually have a decent-sized one!

Sugar Snap Peas and Cabbage

In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp barbeque sauce. After steaming the vegetables, pour the mixture over the sauce and sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds.

WW Points per Serving: I'm not sure exactly how many points this is, but the meat should be about 1 point per ounce, post-cooking weight. The veggies are 0-1 point and the sauce is probably 1-2 points, including the sesame seeds.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tomato Basil Soup with Parmesan Herb Croutons

Today is National Homemade Soup Day! To celebrate this fantastically-yummy holiday, Matt and I made tomato basil soup, from WW Book 6 of the Momentum Plan, Keep on Tracking.

I will say that this soup was not the easiest thing to make. I started a fight with the food processor when, as I was pureeing the tomatoes, it exploded hot red liquid from the top. Apparently, the darn thing doesn't have a good, solid seal.

I thought the blender might make a better friend. Au contraire mon frere! The first batch in the blender went well, but I must not have put the lid on tight enough for the second batch, because it, too, sprayed hot red liquid all over the counter. At that point, I was ready to chuck the blender/food processor across the room. Thankfully, Matt was nearby with paper towels to clean up the mess.

In the end, here's what I learned:
1.) The soup was delicious, so the effort was worth it
2.) I totally need an immersion blender

Tomato Basil Soup
Cooking spray
2 medium leeks, chopped (white parts only)
8 medium ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 3 pounds)
1 tsp dry thyme
1 bay leaf
12 oz fat-free evaporated milk
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste

The first step is an extra one that I will add the next time I make this soup...

Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop the tomatoes in and boil for 1 minute. Immediately drain the tomatoes and dunk in ice cold water. Once the tomatoes are blanched, remove the skins.

OK, back to the original recipe...

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and set pan over medium heat. Add leeks and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until the tomatoes break down, about 5 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.

Puree tomato mixture in saucepan using an immersion blender. Or, working in batches, puree tomato mixture in a blender until smooth (be careful not to splatter hot liquid). That's what the actual recipe says... Oh, how this recipe mocks me!

Return puree to saucepan and set pan over low heat. Add milk and simmer 1 minute to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in basil, reserving a tad for a garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the basil and Parmesan Herb Croutons (recipe below).

WW Points Per Serving (a whopping 1 and a half cups worth!): 2 Points

Parmesan Herb Croutons
Day old french baguette
Olive Oil
Handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese (I'm sure the Kraft container stuff would work great, too)
Various herbs (I used oregano, basil and thyme this thyme... I mean, time)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the baguette into generous-sized cubes and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs. Toss the cubes to coat them well. Sprinkle them with the parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Avocados were on sale at the grocery store this week for a buck a piece, so of course I picked a few up since I love-love-love guacamole. I'm sure there are so many similar recipes out there, so I'm not bothering to cite anyone since I just made this from memory.

2 ripe avocados
1 beefsteak tomato
1/2 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
Chopped cilantro, optional

Pit and chop the avocados, but be sure to save at least one of the pits.

Chop the beefsteak tomato, removing the seeds first. Chop the onion. Finely chop or crush two cloves of garlic in a garlic press.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. If desired, add in chopped cilantro. Add in the lime juice and salt and begin to mash with a large fork.

When the mixture is nicely mashed, add in the avocado pit. This helps the guacamole to retain its green color for a longer period of time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Baked Potato Skins

What a perfect Superbowl Party treat this was! The local newspaper did a feature last week on great appetizers for a sports party. This one looked too good to pass up.

2.5 pound bag of medium russet potatoes (about 15 potatoes)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
Black pepper to taste
8 oz (1 block) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. pepperjack cheese, shredded
1 package of center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small bunch green onions, washed, sliced
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream seasoned with 1/2 packet of ranch dressing mix if desired

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes and dry them very well. Pierce with a fork.

Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Rub them all over so the oil and salt coats them.

Bake for 1 hour or until soft and the skin is crispy. Remove from oven and remove from the baking sheet. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil on the baking sheet and place it back in the oven to preheat.

Cut the potatoes in half horizontally. Scoop out the flesh (reserve for another use -- it can be frozen) leaving about a 1/4-inch layer. To double the batch, cut the halfs in half crosswise, making "scoops."

Carefully remove the hot baking sheet and place the potatoes on it cut side down. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes or until the edges are crispy.

Remove from oven, turn them over. Season the insides with salt and black pepper to taste. Evenly divide the cheese in each and sprinkle with the crumbled bacon and sliced green onions. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese melts.

Serve with sour cream.