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.