Friday, December 30, 2011

And more leftovers . . .

Not to beat the leftover topic to death, but I've just got to use more things up around here.  I bought a carton of eggnog for my guests that never got opened.  What to do, what to do . . . mmm . . .

After thinking awhile, I pictured a creamy breakfast smoothie with hints of holiday flavors as the holidays begin to drift away for another year.  A sprinkling of nutmeg on top completed the picture and my delicious breakfast began.

Eggnog Smoothie

1/2 cup (light) eggnog
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 medium bananas, cut in chunks
Sweetener, to taste
6 ice cubes
Ground nutmeg for garnish, optional

Pour eggnog and water into blender container.  Add flax seed, then bananas and sweetener, if using.  Finally, add ice cubes and blend on high speed 30 seconds until smooth.  Pour into two glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.  Each serving has 2 points plus for Weight Watchers or 170 calories.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leftovers again??

Any special holiday with big meals results in leftovers, right?  Faced with a fridge-full, I decided to combine a few of them into a comforting casserole good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Use whatever leftover breads and veggies you have.  I combined white dinner rolls with whole wheat bread, and used cauliflower, carrots, and celery for the veggies.  Milk would work in place of light sour cream, but since I had this and that to use up, I did.

Hey!  Is anyone else wanting to keep the Christmas dishes out?  I can't bear putting them away just yet.

Savory Strata
4 cups chopped assorted raw vegetables
2 teaspoons garlic olive oil, or plain olive oil if that's what you have
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
5 ounces any type bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons any chopped fresh herbs (I used sage and rosemary)
4 ounces Jarlsberg Lite Swiss cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups nonfat liquid egg substitute
1/2 cup light sour cream

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Coat baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick spray.  Toss vegetables with oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Spread in one layer on pan and roast 15 minutes, stir, then roast another 15 minutes until browned; set aside to cool slightly.

Coat 8 by 8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.  Place bread cubes on bottom of pan.  Sprinkle with herbs and vegetables and 2/3 of the cheese.  In small mixing bowl, whisk together egg substitute, sour cream, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Pour over ingredients in pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover strata, and chill for at least two hours or overnight.  Remove pan from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350°F.  Bake strata for 30 minutes until puffed and golden.  Makes 6 servings, 4 points plus for Weight Watchers or 195 calories each.  Nutritional information will vary depending on the leftovers you have in your kitchen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's a Holiday!

*     *    *     Decadent Day     *     *    *

If Christmas isn't the perfect day for a Decadent Day, then I don't know what is.  I'm sharing a special dessert today that will sweeten your holiday without blowing your calorie budget.

I created this trifle for a guest post at My (Newly)Wed Life, a special blog I love following.  While Ana is away in Brazil, she is featuring a variety of guest bloggers and she selected me as one.  I told a little bit about Tracy Cooks it Right and then enticed Ana's readers with dessert.  I chose the combination of peppermint and chocolate because these flavors epitomize  Christmas to me.

Holiday Trifle

2/3 cup sugar
4 ounces Neufchatel (light cream) cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups nondairy frozen whipped topping, thawed (I used Trader Joe's brand)
8 ounces angel food cake, cubed or torn into bite-size pieces
2 ounces peppermint sticks, crushed (about 1/4 cup)
1 small chocolate like a Dove Miniature, grated

In mixing bowl, beat together sugar, Neufchatel, yogurt, chocolate syrup, and peppermint extract.  Add whipped topping and beat until well combined.

Place one third angel food cake in bottom of trifle or other glass bowl.  Measure one cup chocolate peppermint mixture and pour evenly over cake.  Sprinkle with one third crushed peppermint sticks.  Repeat layers twice, but sprinkle grated chocolate on top layer before final sprinkling of crushed peppermint.

Cover and chill several hours before serving.  Makes 12 servings, 5 points plus for Weight Watchers or 202 calories each.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Couscous

Since red and green are Christmas colors, this dish represents the holiday well.  Here, the sparkle of flavors from mint and cranberries and the pungent soft goat cheese make this dish memorable.

Couscous is such a quick and easy grain to make -  it takes barely more than five minutes.  Add some pizazz and you have a delightful side dish for a special holiday meal.

Christmas Couscous

1 cup uncooked couscous, whole grain if possible
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook couscous according to package directions;  set aside and keep covered.  Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. 

Stir in couscous, dried cranberries, mint, goat cheese, salt, and pepper, and serve immediately.  Makes 6 (2/3-cup) servings, 4 points plus for Weight Watchers or 158 calories each.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Creamy Cranberry Dressing

Eating crisp green salads seems to help balance out the rich dishes of the holiday season.  A pretty pink salad dressing that is light in both texture and calories makes the salads more appealing.

Serve this dressing over greens bejeweled with dried cranberries and heirloom cherry tomatoes, or on a fancier salad like this one.  It's sweet-tart combination gives the salad a real zing, and also, it uses up some of your leftover cranberry sauce.

Creamy Cranberry Dressing

1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Measure all ingredients into small bowl and whisk together until smooth.  Serve over salad.  Makes 13 tablespoons, 1 point plus for Weight Watchers or 42 calories each.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sparkling Refresher!

A favorite drink of mine is an Italian white wine called Prosecco.  It's light and sparkling and perfect for any occasion.  At Christmastime, I love a touch of gingerbread syrup added to a glass of Prosecco - a drink named by cookbook author Nigella Lawson as "Christmas in a Glass."  I love that.

This drink takes Prosecco a different direction but still remains a great refreshment at a holiday gathering.  With a pile of fresh mint to use up, I envisioned a Mojito-type drink.  The use of agave instead of the usual white sugar in a Mojito alleviated dissolving the sugar.

If you prefer not to drink alcohol, substitute a diet or regular lemon-lime soda for the Prosecco.

Prosecco Mojito

12 fresh mint leaves, torn if large
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
4 ounces Prosecco
Crushed ice

Place mint leaves in bottom of tall glass.  Add agave and lime juice and muddle.  (Muddling is combining ingredients by pressing them with a tool that is flat on the bottom called a muddler.  The back side of a spoon will work in a pinch.)  Pour in Prosecco and fill glass with crushed ice.  Makes one serving, 5 points plus for Weight Watcher or 130 calories each.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jacques' Potatoes

Do you talk about food while exercising?  Surprise!  I do.  As we worked side by side on the ellipticals at the gym, my friend described a potato dish he planned to make.  It was popularized by Jacques Pepin yet I had not heard of it.  Intrigued as always, I went right home and looked it up.

My recipe is very loosely based on Jacques Pepin's "Potatoes Fondantes."  The true recipe calls for tiny, whole potatoes, but since mine were big, I cut them in small pieces and forged ahead.  As you can see, when prepared, they are scattered-looking instead of nice and neat.  No problem, the flavor will win you over despite the messiness.

Jacques' Smashed Potatoes

1 1/2 pounds red or yukon gold potatoes, preferably small
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, kosher, if possible

If potatoes are not about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, cut them into 1 1/2-inch chunks.  Place in one layer in bottom of large nonstick skillet and toss in rosemary.  Pour broth and olive oil over potatoes, and sprinkle with salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cover, keeping lid slightly ajar.  Boil about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.

If liquid is not halfway covering potatoes, add a little more broth or water.  Remove pan from heat and smash each potato or potato chunk lightly with fork.   Place pan back on medium-high heat and boil about 10 minutes, until liquid has evaporated and potatoes are brown on one side.  Flip potatoes and brown other side, about 5 minutes.

Let potatoes rest five minutes before serving.  Makes 6 (about 2/3-cup) servings, 3 points plus for Weight Watchers or 128 calories per serving.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Dinner

My special birthday dinner was delightful.  At a popular Italian restaurant, I chose the "pasta special,"  roasted butternut squash and cheese tortellini surrounded by a luscious cream sauce.  It was just a matter of time before a version would be on my dinner table at home.

Winter pictures taken at night don't do food justice.  The pasta was creamy and garlicky and oh so rich.  The contrast of colors and textures added interest to the dish.  Close enough to the restaurant version, it brought back happy memories of a lovely evening.

Tortellini with Roasted Winter Squash

1 1/2 pounds winter squash, any type
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 (9-ounce) packages fresh cheese tortellini, preferably whole wheat
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or nonfat dairy milk
6  Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese wedges, room temperature
2 teaspoons butter or trans fat free margarine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Peel and remove seeds from squash.  Cut into cubes and place in a pile on baking sheet coated with olive oil spray or parchment paper.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and olive oil.  Toss together, then spread in one layer.  Roast 15 minutes, stir, then roast 15 minutes more until brown on edges.

Meanwhile, in large pot, cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain pasta and return it to pot.

Place milk, cheese wedges, butter or margarine, garlic, and salt in medium saucepan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until creamy and thick, about 10 minutes.

Stir roasted squash gently into pasta and spoon into a serving dish.  Pour sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.  Makes 8 servings, 7 points plus for Weight Watchers or 314 calories each.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My son, the cook

Clark asked to guest post on Tracy Cooks it Right.  He is an excellent cook, when in the mood, and he has intriguing ideas.  He works hard all day, then works out hard.  He knows he feels better when choosing healthy foods.  He recently made a fabulous Jambalaya for the family which I hope he shares someday.  Today I welcome Clark and his creativity from his apartment kitchen.  Please enjoy! 

                                       *                             *                            *

There are nights you don't have the energy to go to the gym. There are nights you want to eat light. And then there are nights where the gym is no longer appealing, you don't want to eat a lot, and you have no money. But hunger is hunger and sometimes you gotta put something in the tank.

Clark Cooks What's Left - SIMPLE MAN STIRFRY


Pack of Frozen Vegetables - Preferably Asian Blend  
Laughing Cow Cheese
BBQ Sauce
Cajun Seasoning


Put butter in the pan to melt. Then dump the entire bag of vegetables into the frying pan. Put another glob of butter on top of the veggies so you know when they are heating up. As they heat up, dump in 2 triangles of laughing cow swiss. Once that begins to melt, splash in some bbq sauce and add cajun seasoning to flavor. The laughing cow, butter, bbq sauce, and cajun seasoning will all melt together to coat the veggies in a rustic, authentic, smokey, creamy dressing with a little kick! You'll be full for hours and skinny too!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cornbread Casserole

When my sister finds a recipe she loves, she sticks with it.  Her Cornbread Casserole is dee-licious!  I recently felt inspired to come up with my own version that would not break the calorie and fat bank.

I was able to cut the fat by more than half with no sacrifice in flavor.  This recipe calls for store-bought cornbread mix.  I recommend you read the ingredient lists and choose one with the "cleanest" sounding ingredients.  I chose the 6.5-ounce package from Betty Crocker.  The method is easy since all you do is combine everything, bake, and enjoy!  (Just don't tell my sister I fiddled with her recipe.)

Cornbread Casserole

1/4 cup butter or trans fat free margarine
3 egg whites
1 (6.5 to 8.5-ounce) package cornbread mix
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream style corn
6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat a 9 by 9 or 11 by 7-inch baking pan with olive oil spray.  In medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt butter or margarine.  Add all other ingredients and stir until well combined.  Spread in prepared pan and bake 45 minutes until golden brown on top.  Makes 8 servings, 6 points plus for Weight Watchers or 219 calories each.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cider Chicken Chowder

Does it bother you to have partially drunk sparkling cider bottles (or soda, or any other drink) hanging around after a party?  It does me.  When it happened this time, I decided to find a way to use it.

I wasn't sure how these flavors would blend, but they sounded good.  Turns out it is a delicious combination and a recipe I will make again, even if I have to open a new bottle of cider!

Cider Chicken Chowder

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium shallots or 1 medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, chopped, optional but good
12 ounces chicken breast, cubed (I used vegetarian Gardein Chick'n Scallopini)
1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup apple cider, sparkling or not
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crumbled
1/4 cup fat free creamer (I used So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer)
1/4 cup sour cream

In large saucepan, warm olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots or onion, celery, fennel, if using, and chicken.  Cook until shallots or onions are translucent, then stir in apple, broth, cider, salt, and sage.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove pot from heat: stir in creamer and sour cream, and serve immediately.  Makes 4 (1 1/4-cup) servings,  5 points plus for Weight Watchers or 249 calories each.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Broccoli Salad

I found myself with a boat-load of broccoli so Broccoli Salad was on the menu.  A "wintery" spin with pecans, persimmon, cranberries, and maple syrup took this salad to a new level.

This is a Fuyu persimmon.  I wanted you to see it so you would not use a Hachiya persimmon by mistake.  They are different in taste, appearance, and texture.  This Fuyu is firm and sweet.  The Hachiya is heart-shaped rather than round, and it must be mushy before it is sweet enough to eat.  The Hachiya works best in quick breads and bar cookies.

P. S. You can substitute a pear or an apple if you choose not to use a persimmon.

Winter Broccoli Salad

1 head raw broccoli, florets only, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 ounces reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) chopped toasted pecans
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon maple syrup

In medium bowl, combine broccoli, onion, cheese, persimmon, cranberries, and pecans.  In small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and maple syrup.  Add to broccoli mixture and mix well.  Chill one hour before serving and serve within 24 hours for best texture.  Makes 5 (3/4-cup) servings, 3 points plus for Weight Watchers or 180 calories each. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Potato Biscuits

This recipe is the byproduct of leftover baked sweet potato from my Thanksgiving "Sweet Potato Crisp."  Mix up a few ingredients and pop them in the oven for a homey accompaniment to soup or salad.

Most biscuit recipes call for rolling the dough and cutting out circles.  I find it easier to use my hands to gently form the circles and place on the baking sheet.  Either way works, and you end up with a pretty,  orange-colored biscuit.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or trans fat free margarine
1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1/4 cup any type milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Coat baking sheet with nonstick spray or parchment paper.  In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in butter or margarine with fork until crumbly.  Stir in sweet potato and milk.

Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Gently form into balls and flatten to 1/2-inch thick.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.  Makes 8 biscuits, 2 points plus for Weight Watchers or 97 calories each.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Toffee Tiramisu

*     *    *     Decadent Day     *     *    *

What better time for another Decadent Day than a birthday?  Just last week, my mother had a special birthday celebration.  I combined two of her favorites - toffee and coffee - for a creamy, rich dessert.

We topped off the happy celebration with this real taste treat.  Oh, if only we had remembered candles and to sing happy birthday!  Oh well. . . next year. . .

Toffee Tiramisu

1/2 of 10.75-ounce package frozen pound cake, thawed
3/4 cup strong brewed regular or decaffeinated coffee
8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed (I used Trader Joe's brand)
6 tablespoons Heath English Toffee Bits (from baking supply aisle)

Place foil muffin cups with paper inserts or double paper muffin cups in muffin pans.  Cut pound cake into 1/4-inch thick slices that will fit in bottom of each muffin cup.  Pour 2 teaspoons coffee over each cake slice.

In mixing bowl, beat Neufchatel, sugar, and chocolate syrup until smooth.  Add whipped topping and beat until well combined.  Dollop evenly over coffee-soaked cake and chill for at least one hour.

Before serving, sprinkle one teaspoon toffee bits on top of each dessert.  Makes 18 servings, 4 points plus for Weight Watchers or 160 calories each. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lasagna Roll-Ups with Southwestern Flair

Cheesy Lasagna Rolls is one of my most popular recipes.  Today I share a variation that will be an easy but yummy dish to have ready to serve during the holidays. 

Notice the red and green colors, just right for the upcoming time of year!  If you choose to make this ahead, store in the refrigerator and remove about an hour before baking.

Southwestern Lasagna Roll-Ups

8 dry lasagna noodles
1 medium head fresh broccoli, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
4 ounces "lite" shredded cheese blend, divided (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon any type Southwestern seasoning mix, or a combination of spices such as cumin, oregano           and chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low fat pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with olive oil spray.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and lay flat on a cotton kitchen towel.

Steam broccoli until crisp-tender; drain and cool slightly, then chop.  Place in mixing bowl.   Add half the shredded cheese, ricotta, garlic, seasoning mix, salt, and pepper; mix well.

Coat bottom of prepared baking pan with about 1/4 cup pasta sauce.  Place about 1/4 cup filling at one end of each lasagna noodle.  Roll them up, cheesy end first,  Place in pan and cover with remaining sauce.

Bake roll-ups 15 minutes, sprinkle remaining cheese on top, then bake 5 to 10 more minutes until hot and bubbly.   Makes 4 large servings of 2 roll-ups, 10 points plus for Weight Watchers or 440 calories each.

Note: I sprinkled the cheese on top before baking and because it is "lite," it got too brown.  Sprinkle it on for the last 5 to 10 minutes for proper melted cheesiness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day-After Soup

Turkey is expected to be the star of the "day-after" soup.  For sure, one meal on the day after Thanks-giving should include yummy leftovers, allowing us to relive the tastes of our Thanksgiving feast.

But. . . another meal can be something easy, soothing, and warm: soup with red lentils and winter squash, blended into a smooth-textured bowl of coziness.  Come to think of it, this soup doesn't have to be eaten just the day after Thanksgiving.  It can be enjoyed the day after anything.

Day-After Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cups red lentils
6 cups water
2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon, any flavor
1 3/4 cups cooked fresh winter squash or 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt, optional
1/2 cup canned fried onion pieces (I used Trader Joe's)

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir in lentils, water, and Better than Bouillon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes until lentils are soft.

Pour soup into blender container along with squash and pepper, blending in batches if necessary.  If soup is too thick, add water.  Taste and see if salt is needed.  Pour into bowls and sprinkle each with one tablespoon onion pieces.  Makes 8 (1-cup) servings, 3 points plus for Weight Watchers or 182 calories each.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Crisp

In case your Thanksgiving menu is not completely planned,  here is a quick sweet potato casserole to add to the bounty.  Easy and delicious, that's what we need for this holiday.

I'm thinking of all the things I'm thankful for, and mostly, I am thankful for all of you, my readers.  Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and happy cooking!

Sweet Potato Crisp

2 1/4 pounds fresh sweet potatoes or yams
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or trans fat free margarine

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Bake sweet potatoes for about one hour until done but still firm.  Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle; peel and cube sweet potato.  Lower oven temperature to 350°F.  and coat 9 by 13-inch baking pan with olive oil spray.

In mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Remove one cup crumbs and add sweet potato to remaining crumbs; mix well.  Spread in prepared baking pan and sprinkle reserved crumbs on top.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden brown.  Makes 12 (2/3-cup) servings, 4 points plus for Weight Watchers or 164 calories each.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Magical Autumn Pie

I must have a sweet tooth this week - two desserts in a row!  Truth be told, I always have a sweet tooth.  Since we are heading into the holidays, it's nice to have a few "light" desserts in our baking arsenal.

The magic of this pie is it forms it's own crust on the top.  Even better, it takes but a minute to beat the ingredients together and add the fruit.  It is a quick fresh dessert to wow your family or guests.

Magical Autumn Pie

1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 large pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Whipped topping or ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray.  In mixing bowl, beat egg.  Add sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt and beat until well combined.  Stir in pear and cranberries.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 25 minutes, or until pie is golden brown on top and tests done with a toothpick.  Serve with whipped topping or ice cream, if desired.  Makes 8 servings, 3 points plus for Weight Watchers or 134 calories each, not including whipped topping or ice cream.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Fix in a Jif!

Peanut butter is like chocolate.  When you get a craving, it won't leave you alone until you eat some!  For a quick dose of peanut butter that will truly satisfy, here is a fun cookie.

Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and so easy to make.  Just don't eat too many!

Peanut Butter Jiffies

1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup corn flakes

Preheat oven to 325°F.  In mixing bowl, beat together sugar, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, then beat in corn flakes.  Using hands, form 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes, watching carefully at the end so as not to burn cookies.  Cool three minutes on baking sheet, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 30 cookies, 2 points plus for Weight Watchers or 79 calories each.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Go-To Smoothie

My girlfriend asked me how I make my daily smoothie.  I realized I never posted it here, only in a guest blog I wrote for Suzzie V.  Here's the scoop:

Several years back when I decided to change my eating habits, I made a BIG purchase.  I bought a VitaMix blender.  No doubt about it, it was expensive and out of my budget.  However, there has barely been a day I haven't used it.  (And I highly recommend it.)
This is more a formula than a recipe because seasons change and so do the available fruits.  I use what I can from local farms, and I supplement with frozen fruit, if necessary.

I always start with a little water in the bottom of the blender.  I measure in one to two tablespoons ground flax seed and some sweetener.  Lately, I have been using one packet of stevia from the NuStevia company.  You might not choose to use a sweetener since fruit is typically already sweet, or you may prefer sugar, but a sweetener helps bring out the flavor and natural sweetness of the fruit.

I  add a ripe banana for creaminess and flavor, and I never leave the banana out.  After that, the fun begins.  This morning, I used two different types of plums and a handful of raspberries.  Yesterday was half an orange and about 20 red grapes.  The day before was mango and a fig.  As you can see, no two smoothies are ever alike in my kitchen.

Finally, I toss in six ice cubes and blend for 30 seconds on high speed.  This "recipe" serves two, my husband and myself.  Since it is mostly fruit, it is not our entire breakfast, but it is the perfect way to start the day.

Daily Smoothie

1/3 cup water
1 to 2 tablespoons ground flax seed, as desired
Sweetener, as desired
1 ripe banana, cut into chunks
Any other fresh or frozen fruit, as much as you'd like
6 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in blender container.  Blend on high speed for 30 seconds.  Pour into two glasses and serve.  Each serving has 1 point plus for Weight Watchers and the calories vary depending on the sweetener and fruits used.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crockpot Bisque

Crock pot again?  Yes!!  It's perfect because:  1) I have a new job and precious little time to cook;  2) it's getting cold outside and nothing warms us up like a pot of something hot;  3) the house smells wonderful!

Fresh dill came in my Abundant Harvest box this week (along with many other beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables).  Since I already had potatoes, this recipe was a slam dunk.  The result is a thick and creamy soup, even better the next day when the flavors have blended more.

Potato Dill Bisque

2 pounds any type potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill  (more if you love dill)
4 Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese wedges, broken apart
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened original almond milk)
Additional salt and pepper, optional

Place potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, dill, cheese wedges, salt, and pepper in slow cooker.  Add vegetable broth and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 3 to 5 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Pour soup into blender in batches and blend until smooth.  Return to slow cooker; stir in milk and taste for seasonings.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Cook on high 15 more minutes until soup is hot again.  Makes 8 (scant 1 1/2-cup) servings, 3 Weight Watchers points plus or 125 calories each.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gingerbread Granola

Someone asked me the other day if I am ready for the holidays.  WHAT??  Ready for the holidays?  I can't even fathom the idea yet.  It's WAY too soon.


But here is an idea that kind of begins my venture into holiday cooking.  It began as Pumpkin Granola and morphed into a more unique version.  Haven't we all experienced a lot of pumpkin at this point in the season?  Time to move on . . . and maybe, just maybe, begin to think about the holidays.


It's not that I don't like pumpkin, really.

Gingerbread Granola

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened flake coconut
1/2 cup seedless raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick spray; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, stir together applesauce, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  Add brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla and mix well.  Stir in oats, pecans, and coconut.

Spread oat mixture on prepared pan.  Bake 20 minutes, remove from oven to stir, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more.  Watch carefully at end the so as not to burn granola.  Stir in raisins.  Makes 7 cups total, 21 (1/3-cup) servings with 4 Weight Watchers points plus each or 167 calories.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuscan Beans and Butternut

I have a tendency to think of recipe concepts in the most unlikely places.  Sometimes, I'll be in the shower or lying awake at night or driving on the freeway and an idea will pop into my brain.

Which is how this recipe came to be.  Since I am fond of butternut squash, I always have one in the fridge this time of year.  Sage and white beans are a delicious Tuscan combination.  Put these ingredients together in the slow cooker and dinner is ready when you are.  Add the optional sausage for another layer of flavor.  One pan meals like this are a real time saver.  Enjoy!

Tuscan Beans and Butternut

1 pound dried white beans, such as navy or cannellini, rinsed but not soaked
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash (or any winter variety), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried sage leaves, crumbled, divided
5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces precooked Italian sausage (about 2 links), cut into 1/4-inch slices, optional
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped walnuts, toasted

Place beans, squash, garlic, and 1 teaspoon sage in crock pot and mix well.  Stir in water;  cover and cook on high heat for 5 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.  Stir in salt, pepper, and remaining teaspoon sage.

If using sausage, coat nonstick skillet with olive oil spray and place over medium high heat.  Cook sausage slices until brown, then stir into hot bean mixture.

Turn heat to low and cook one more hour.  Beans will be thick and coated with dissolved squash.   Serve in bowls with one teaspoon walnuts sprinkled on each serving.  Makes 8 (rounded 1-cup) servings, 4 points plus for Weight Watchers or 240 calories each.  Adjust values for sausage, if using.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Leftover Pumpkin

What can I do with it?  I hate waste, and particularly wasting food.  Something had to be done with that third cup of pumpkin puree in my fridge.  Surprise!  A rich and creamy smoothie came to be.

You might not think banana and pumpkin go together, but the banana makes the smoothie thick and creamy with only a hint of banana flavor coming through.  Fall flavors are a recurrent theme this time of year, but I have to say, this definitely is fall in a glass!

Pumpkin Smoothie

1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
3 tablespoons fat free liquid vanilla creamer (I used So Delicious brand Coconut Milk Creamer*)
1 banana, sliced
1 packet Stevia or 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more, if desired)
6 ice cubes
Whipped topping, optional

Place all ingredients except whipped topping in blender container in order listed.  Use low setting to start blending, then increase to high and blend 30 seconds.  Pour into glass and serve with whipped topping, if desired.  Makes one (1 1/2-cup) serving, 2 points plus for Weight Watchers or 205 calories.
(Add 1 point plus and 45 calories if using sugar instead of Stevia.)

*So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer is nondairy and nonfat.  It comes in three rich flavors, Original, French Vanilla, and Hazelnut.  There is no evident coconut flavor, just a perfect creaminess in coffee and, in this case, a smoothie.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Roast Something Different

Those of you following me for awhile know my love for roasted veggies (see here, here and here).  Today I tried a new thing - roasted apples - resulting in lovely fall flavors and versatility.

Toss apples with a few other ingredients and cook in the oven.  The roasted apples are delicious on their own, topped with whipped cream, over oatmeal or ice cream, or any other pairing you think of. 

Roasted Apples

1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon canola or other plain oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch salt
3 large (about 7-ounce) apples, unpeeled
Whipped topping, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Coat baking sheet with nonstick spray or parchment paper.  In large mixing bowl, whisk together agave, oil, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  Core and chop apples; add to bowl and mix well.

Place apples in single layer on baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes, stir, then bake 10 to 15 minutes more until apples are golden and soft.  Serve with whipped topping, if desired.  Makes 5 (1/2-cup) servings, 1 point plus for Weight Watchers or 75 calories each.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Time for an Autumn Salad

Isn't a pear just the epitome of fall?  The beautiful colors, the crispness, the sweet flavor. . .

The pear plays the starring role in this autumn salad with pomegranate seeds and candied nuts as supporting accents.  Eat the salad immediately upon tossing so you don't end up with wilted lettuce.

Fall Pear Salad

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced

8 cups mixed lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 pear, unpeeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons crumbled lowfat Feta cheese (1 ounce)
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds 
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped candied pecans or walnuts

Whisk dressing ingredients in small bowl until well blended.  Refrigerate at least one hour to blend flavors if there is time.  Place salad ingredients in large salad bowl.  Pour dressing over them and toss.  Makes 2 large servings, 4 points plus for Weight Watchers or 258 calories each, or 4 smaller servings, 2 points plus or 129 calories each.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Creamy Friday Pasta

The other night, my son and his girlfriend offered to make dinner for my husband and me.  I accepted with a resounding YES!  Their pasta dish was so delicious I had to get permission to make a version to share.

When I asked, his sweet girlfriend said the recipe was just an easy one she found on line*.  She gave it to me.  Following is what resulted from a change here and a change there - you know, to lighten it up and still have a yummy dish.

I hope it is clear how pasta can be a quick meal no matter what is going on in your life:  the desire for healthy food, something to make when the kitchen is in an upheaval, or delicious food to serve company.  Making pasta allows you to easily express creativity in delicious ways.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

8 ounces whole wheat pasta such as farfalle (bow ties)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 vegetarian "chicken" cutlets (Gardein** brand) OR 4 (4-ounce) chicken breasts, sliced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup light vinaigrette dressing, any type
4 ounces Neufchatel (light cream) cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.  In large nonstick skillet, warm olive oil over medium high heat.  Add vegetarian OR real chicken and cook for about 6 minutes until beginning to brown.

Add tomatoes and vinaigrette to pan with chicken.  Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 4 minutes.  Add Neufchatel and continue to cook, stirring, until cheese is melted and incorporated.  Stir in pasta and cook until warmed through.  Serve immediately with Parmesan sprinkled on top.  Makes 4 (just under 1 1/2-cup) servings.  With Gardein "chicken," each serving has 8 points plus and 339 calories, and with real chicken, each serving has 9 points plus and 380 calories each.

* The original recipe is PHILLY Creamy Tomato and Chicken Spaghetti on

** Gardein "chicken" cutlets are called "Chick'n Scallopini" and can be found in the supermarket frozen food aisle.  I cook with them frequently and find them to be a great substitute for poultry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peanut Noodles

This week my kitchen is "under construction," so to say.  Just some minor changes, but it required emptying all my cupboards and drawers.  I'm cooking simply - and pasta is on the menu again.

The serving size here may seem small, but believe me, the flavor combination and richness make up for the amount.  Serve with some cut up fruit or another vegetable on the side and you have a quick complete meal.

Peanut Noodles

1/4 cup reduced fat peanut butter
2 tablespoons brown or regular rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)
5 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles or other long thin pasta
2 cups chopped greens, any type
1/2 cup chopped green onions

In small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, agave, sesame oil, and chili paste.  Heat in microwave one minute on high, then whisk again until smooth; set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions, adding chopped greens during the last minute of cooking;  drain.  Toss with sauce and green onions and serve immediately.  Makes 4 (about 3/4-cup) servings, 6 points plus and 332 calories each.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pasta for Dinner All Week

"Quick and easy," "kid-friendly but healthy," "light and fast."  These are the requests I hear for weeknight dinners.  Opt for pasta as the main dish and fulfill each request.  It will be tasty, too.

Ages ago, I found a recipe called Fiesta Enchilada Skillet on the fun and delicious blog Danica's Daily. I have made it many times since.  The following recipe is an adaptation using pasta.  I opted for corn pasta since corn is so prominent in Mexican cooking, but any other macaroni will do.  Make a green salad to accompany it, and your meal is on the table in no time. 

Mexican Macaroni

6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) corn or other elbow-style pasta
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (11-ounce) package veggie ground beef substitute OR 1 pound lean ground meat of your choice
10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) green chile enchilada sauce
4 ounces grated reduced fat Cheddar cheese
2  Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese wedges, crumbled

Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.  Meanwhile, coat large nonstick skillet with olive oil spray and place over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Stir in veggie beef and cook until warmed through, OR stir in meat and cook until no longer pink.  Add pasta, enchilada sauce, half the Cheddar, and half the crumbled wedges.

Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer five minutes.  Sprinkle remaining Cheddar and wedges over top; cover again for one minute to melt cheese.  Serve immediately.  Makes 5 (1 1/4-cup) servings, 7 points plus and 308 calories each.  Adjust nutritional values if using meat.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bread My Grandmother's Way

This bread recipe has been in my recipe box for years.  It was my grandmother's special recipe, and she passed it down to me.  Like everything I make, I changed it a bit, but I kept her old-time method.

The flavor of this bread improves with time, so make it a day ahead if you can.  With each bite, I have fond memories of my grandmother "Bobbi," and I hope it gives you similar warm feelings.

Grandmother's Autumn Bread

1 cup (about 5 1/2 ounces) dried figs
1 cup (about 5 ounces) pitted dates
1 cup boiling water
1 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat 9 by 5-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.  Chop figs and dates and place in small bowl.  Pour boiling water over fruit and set aside.

Stir agave, pumpkin, egg, egg whites, and vanilla together in large mixing bowl.  Drain fruit, reserving liquid, and set aside.  Add baking soda and salt to reserved liquid.  Add flour alternately with liquid to agave mixture, mixing well after each addition.  Fold in fruit and pecans.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake one hour until top springs back when lightly touched.  Makes one  loaf with 16 generous slices, 5 points plus and 200 calories each.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Veggie Comfort Food

Comfort food to me is not just creamy and cheesy like  macaroni and cheese.  It is bold and spicy and fills the kitchen with wonderful smells as it bakes.  This is before the oven:

 And after:

Just chop the veggies and add a few other ingredients and this is comfort on it's way to your tummy.  Enjoy!

Greek-Inspired Veggie Pot

1 pound any type potatoes, peeled and cut in approximately 1-inch cubes
1 pound any type summer squash, cut in approximately 1-inch cubes
1 pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut in approximately 1-inch cubes
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut in approximately 1-inch squares
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, omit if no heat desired
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Coat large casserole pan with olive oil spray.  Combine all ingredients in pan and mix well.  Place in oven and bake 30 minutes, stir, bake another 30 minutes, and stir again.  Bake 15 more minutes, stir, then increase oven temperature to 400°F. and bake for a final 15 minutes.  Makes 8 (1-cup) servings, 2 points plus and 116 calories each.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Decadent Day - Vacation Style!

*     *    *     Decadent Day     *     *    *

Key Lime Pie from the real Florida Keys was quite a treat.  With the first tart and creamy bite, I knew it was destined for Tracy Cooks it Right.  Mine would taste just as rich but secretly be much lighter.

Taste testers confirmed this pie to be every bit as decadent as the "real thing."  Normally a pie serves eight, but one-tenth is a satisfying portion.  It is quick to make and provides a sparkly citrus ending to any meal.  Key limes were plentiful in southern Florida, but not so in southern California.  You can substitute bottled key lime juice or regular limes if necessary.

Key Lime Pie

6 full graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter or trans fat free margarine, melted
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces Neufchatel (light cream) cheese, room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 (6-ounce) carton lowfat key lime-flavored yogurt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime or regular lime juice, or bottled, if necessary
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
Whipped topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine crushed graham crackers, butter or margarine, and water.  Mix well, then press evenly into bottom and halfway up sides of 9-inch pie plate.  Bake 7 minutes until just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In mixing bowl, beat Neufchatel and sweetened condensed milk 3 minutes on high speed, scraping down sides of  bowl occasionally.  Add yogurt and lime juice and again beat 3 minutes on high speed.  Pour into cooled crust and sprinkle with lime zest.  Chill 3 hours or longer before serving.  Garnish with whipped topping, if desired.   Makes 10 slices, 7 points plus and 246 calories each.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I went on vacation to Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  It was a beautiful, restful week that went way. . too . . fast.  Some mornings looking east to the Atlantic were like this:

And some were like this:

And some like this:

      *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *      *      *      *      *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

On Thursday,  a guest post I wrote before I left appeared on Healthy, Strong, Beautiful., Suzzie V.'s new blog.  Please visit Suzzie and take a look at her fun and inspirational new format.

See you Monday with a vacation-inspired recipe!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Squash

Nothing warms the cackles of my heart more than the smell of caramelizing squash in the oven on a crisp fall evening.  I know I will soon get to eat what smells so good and that it's good for me.

Using walnut oil will add a second layer of walnut flavor, but don't worry if you don't have it. 

Roasted Butternut Squash

3-pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon walnut or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place parchment paper on large baking sheet for easy cleanup or coat with nonstick spray.  Combine squash, oil, salt, pepper, and walnuts and spread in one layer on baking sheet.  Roast one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, watching carefully at the end so walnuts do not burn.

Remove from oven, taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if desired.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 (1-cup) servings, 2 points plus and 158 calories each.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Some foods conjure up fond memories.  I've been making these muffins since I was first married years ago.  They ooze chocolatey goodness, even now, after a "health" makeover.

Lots of butter, chocolate bars, sugar, white flour, and twice the amount of chocolate chips were all in need of removal or reduction.  This was a makeover with beautiful results, no doubt about it.

Ok, maybe these are a bit of a splurge, even with the changes, but fond memories are surely worth it!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line muffin tin with cupcake papers or coat with nonstick spray.  In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla.

Pour liquid into dry ingredients and stir just until combined, then stir in chocolate chips.  Scoop into muffin cups.  Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins, 6 points plus and 235 calories each.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Orange Cranberry Baked Apples

I wanted something more than the same old, same old when it comes to baked apples.  Since I am fond of the flavors of orange and cranberries together, I combined them with the apples with tasty results.

Nothing says "fall" - other than pumpkin - like apples.  And the smell of apples cooking in your kitchen emphasizes that statement.  Because these are "baked" in the slow cooker, you can put them together and go on with your day, enjoying the fragrance as you come and go.  And you know what?  This new flavor combination really works well together.

Orange Cranberry Baked Apples

4 medium Granny Smith apples, cored
1 medium orange
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 teaspoons chopped pecans
2 teaspoons maple or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place apples in one layer on bottom of slow cooker.  Obtain one teaspoon zest from orange peel and juice the orange.  Pour orange juice in and around the apples.

In small bowl, combine orange zest, cranberries, pecans, sugar, and vanilla.  Divide evenly between apples, pushing it down into each core.  Turn slow cooker on to low and cook 4 hours or until apples are tender.

Makes 4 servings, 1 point plus and 144 calories each.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pesto-fied Spaghetti Squash

Abundant Harvest bestowed upon me a beautiful spaghetti squash.  It sat and sat as I pondered what to do with it.  Finally, a craving for Italian flavors and a need to use leftover pesto lead to this result:

Once the squash is roasted, there is little else to do.  I testify this easy dish will delight your taste buds!

Pesto-fied Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
1/4 cup pesto sauce, homemade or purchased
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons julienne-sliced sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/2 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Poke spaghetti squash all over with a knife.  Place on foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 50 to 60 minutes until knife inserts easily into squash.  Carefully cut squash in half lengthwise and take out seeds.  Using fork, scrape out squash strands into serving bowl.

In small bowl, combine pesto and yogurt.  Pour over squash, add sundried tomatoes, and toss.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve hot.  Makes 4 (1-cup) servings, 3 points plus and 154 calories each.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Onions Galore!

Do you love grilled onions on your sandwich?  Do you look forward to ordering grilled onions on a burger when you eat out?  Now you can have them ready at home to add a flavor punch any time.

Since I'm not really grilling the onions, I named them Onion Confit.  According to wiseGEEK, the definition of confit is "a condiment of fruit or vegetables cooked to the consistency of jam,"  and that depicts my onions perfectly.  And believe me, they are tasty!

Onion Confit

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds onions, about 3 medium, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Warm olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Stir in onions, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Cover and cook 30 minutes until onions are soft, stirring occasionally.

Uncover skillet and stir in wine and vinegar.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 35 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.  Makes 1 1/4 cups.  Each 2-tablespoon serving has 1 point plus and 56 calories.

Note: The Onion Confit freezes well.

Here is one way to use the confit:  a sandwich with Jarlsberg Lite Swiss cheese, avocado, arugula, light mayonnaise, and Onion Confit on Great Harvest Whole Grain Goodness bread.  Yum!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Last Day Fall Crawl!!!

The Artsy Girl Connection

Hasn't this been fun seeing all the creative ideas in Fall Crawl?  Many thanks go to Marilyn for organizing such a fun event.  Today is the last day.  You must go to Renee's Joy Journey and see her fall inspiration.

Fall Crawl Schedule
Sept 19th - Marilyn -
Sept 20th - Kellie -
Sept 21st - Letty -
Sept 22nd - Lorie -
Sept 23rd - Abby -  

Abby's will also include our 1st blog hop Linky Party
Sept 24th Tracy -
Sept 25th - Kimba -
Sept 26th - Jacqueline -
Sept 27th - Jillian -

Sept 28th - Kim&Lars
Sept 29th - DEIA

Sept 30th - Meli -
Renee's will be our Second blog hop /Linky Party
October 2nd - Giveaway & thanks to all that joined us in on the crawl!