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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baked Turkey Chimichangas

We love Mexican food. Dinner tonight was a recipe from when I first joined Weight Watchers. It is a baked version of my favorite. Chimichangas normally are fried and delicious, but I just can't eat like that anymore.
Now don't hold the picture against me, they were cheesy on top, and mine fell apart on it's way out of the pan. But still yummy. It is also one of those recipes that gets better as leftovers.

Oh and let me just give a huge shout out to Taco bell, I love that they bottled and sell their sauces in the grocery store. Because now I can get the taco bell flavor and not have to go through the drive thru!!! p.s. Saturday will be the start of 17 months since I've gone through a drive thru. I do go to Subway, but that is only because I know I can make good choices there. Normal fast food I can't make good choices. So I choose not to have them at all....

Baked Turkey Chimichangas (WW 4 pts a piece)
makes 10 chimichangas
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 onion, diced
1 can fat free refried beans
1 cup salsa
Taco Seasoning
10 small whole wheat tortillas
8 oz. Low fat Shredded mexican blend cheese

Preheat the oven to 375. In a pan, saute the onion and ground turkey until it's browned. Add the taco seasoning and mix through. Then add the beans and salsa, mix until heated. Add 1/2 the cheese to the meat mixture and let melt. Take the tortillas and scoop even amounts of the turkey mixture into the tortillas, then roll and place in a PAM sprayed 9x13 inch baking dish.
After all the tortillas are in the pan rolled up, top with the remaining cheese and place in the oven to let the cheese melt.

We usually have 2 chimichangas, served with Salsa.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries.

One of the few things that I do not attempt to cook are steaks and hamburgers. I just don't do them very well... So tonight Michael made Turkey burgers and I made the sweet potato fries. Both are delicious and gone. *sheepish grin*.

A few years ago, I worked in a little restaurant in Opelika, Alabama. The chef there insisted that we use this seasoning Dirk's dirt on the steaks. Well after tasting it there, I had to find out if I could get my hands on some for myself. Well we found it, at a little place in Montgomery (http://www.filetandvine.com/), they handmake it and only sell it there. We (michael) puts it in our hamburgers and on steaks, and it truly gives the meat a taste that can't be copied.

Turkey Burger
1 lb Lean ground Turkey
1 egg
1 handful of spinach chopped finely
1 package of plain instant oatmeal
Moore's Sauce (marinade like Dale's sauce, just less sodium)
Sprinkle of Dirk's Dirt

Mix all of the ingredients together. Form patties, and let chill for 10-15 minutes. We put them on the grill, but I'm sure you could do them in a skillet if need be.

We also splurged and added a piece of F.F. American cheese on top. Then put it onto a Pepperidge Farm thin. Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle, ketchup and mustard.

Sweet Potato Fries
1 Sweet Potato per person
PAM
Pepper

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice the sweet potatoes into thin slices. Spray a cookie sheet (If they are bigger potatoes, I have to use 2 sheets) with PAM. Spread the sweet potato slices in 1 layer across the cookie sheet, Spray the tops of the sweet potato with another bit of PAM. Sprinkle with Pepper (and salt if you want).
Bake for 20 minutes, flip the potatoes over and you can bake for another 20 minutes, or put the broiler on low and broil them. If you choose to broil them, watch them closely, because they will crisp up pretty quick on you.

Our whole dinner tonight was WW 8.5 pts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peet-Uh-Boo.



That is how Will says Peek-A-Boo. The other day Will was on the couch in the den downstairs, and I kept seeing a little head pop up and down from the couch.

He was never interested in playing peek a boo until lately, and I know he doesn't quite get it. But it still makes me laugh. He can walk up to you from being in another room playing, or come running dragging the loud Fischer Price ball popper behind him (you know the one that sounds like popcorn popping). Come to a screeching halt next to you. You look down at the sweet little face, he smiles and says Peet-Uh-Boo.... smiles, and walks away.

Or him sitting sweetly in your lap after a nap, or just because, turns his full body around, knees on your lap, turns your face to his, and whispers Peet-Uh-Boo. His Peek A Boo game rarely comes as a shock, because let's face the facts, he's a boy. Boys make noise... the element of surprise is gone, when Will is awake.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Will's last swim class.

Today was Will's last swim class. We got about 20 minutes of it in before a thunderstorm popped up and they closed the pools. Forcing everyone out.

But in the 7 weeks of swim lessons it brought my attention to a few facts that I knew but had forgotten about Will, and a few that I learned. He loves water, go figure what kid doesn't love water. But Will hates his face in water, water near his face, or anything like that.

The few things that Will did learn and master in his class is he knows to sit on the side of the pool and wait until we tell him it's ok to get in. He learned how to put his hands on the side of the pool and turn and slide into the pool and the BIGGIE for me, he knows how to grab the side of the pool and hoist his little leg up and pull himself out of the pool.

The thing that Will reminded me during all his swim classes is: He does things on his own time. You aren't going to force him to do it, until he is good and ready.... I think that gene is my fault (big shocker I know). He wouldn't kick in the pool. Now he will kick. He will flip over onto his belly, which is the opposite of what they were trying to teach him in the class. They usually want kids to learn to flip on the backs and learn to float if they ever fall into a pool. And of course the whole getting his head wet. It is obviously something that we are going to have to keep working on it with him.

It's funny how seeing Will refuse to do something like lay back against your chest in the pool, kinda makes you feel like a bad parent, when your kid doesn't trust you enough to lay back and kick. Michael is still trying to convince me that it's not me, it's Will... but I'm still not sure. I just want to know that if he was to fall into a pool he would be able to float long enough to get to the side of the pool, or until someone could get him.

Guess I'm just going to have to chalk it up to another day and another worry of being a parent. Regardless of my worries, we will keep taking him to the pool, knowing that he isn't the next Michael Phelps. He's just our Will.

The Perfect Pork Chop.

A few years ago, in the wee hours of the night, I sat in a dimly lit nursery feeding Will. I would read magazines, books, stories. Sometimes to Will, sometimes just to keep myself awake. One of those reads was a Cooks Illustrated magazine, that I had gotten in the mail. Over the course of a week I read that thing cover to cover, actually finding out some interesting cooking tips, recipes, ideas. One of the tips was on how to make the perfect pork chop. One that is juicy, tender, full of flavor.
Cook's Illustrated tips were:
1.) Never put a pork chop in a hot pan. The hot pan will cause the proteins in the pork to break down faster, thus causing a tougher chop.
2.) Never heat the oven over 350 degrees if you are cooking the pork chops. For the same reason as above, if the pork gets to hot to fast, it gets tough.
3.) How to tell if it got to hot to fast. If there is more than a tablespoon of water in the bottom of the pan.. then the proteins broke down, and the juices were released.
4.) When cooking pork chops in a pan, don't let them touch if possible, that way they will cook better, instead of steaming themselves.

So those tips, led me to try their theory.... and they were right. So since then, I have used their method to make pork chops and ooohhh how they melt in your mouth. Try their method and be amazed.

So after getting tired of the same ole' pork chop recipes, I googled "pork chop recipe" (I know brilliant right) and came to find that over 1/2 the recipes called for apple something or apple as the ingredient. Well when I wanted to make them, I didn't have a single apple in the house, so I opted to make up my own recipe, with apples in mind.
Spicy Applesauce Pork Chops (makes 2 pork chops)
WW pt: 5 pt (per chop)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
pepper
salt
brown sugar
Pork chops, boneless or bone in.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a oven safe pan, over medium heat, spray with PAM. sprinkle a pinch of salt, pepper and brown sugar on one side of each pork chop and place seasoned side down in the pan immediately (They shouldn't sizzle when you put them in) then season the side facing up the same way. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes. Then flip.
While the pork chops are on top of the stove. In a small bowl mix the applesauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, hot sauce, and a 1/4 tsp of pepper together.
Before placing the pork into the oven, spoon applesauce mixture onto the pork. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Flip the pork chops, and spoon more sauce over the pork. Let cook another 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven. I usually spoon a couple of tablespoons of sauce on top of the chop before serving.

We usually have a potato (which I made hash browns out of) and a salad. Delicious!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bolognese not Bologna

So in Amy's wonderful Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole cooking, I noticed something that should have occurred to me sooner. There is a LOT more french influence than I noticed before. So tonight's dinner was from the cookbook again, and it was A Classic Bolognese Sauce. Given the time it took to make it, I probably wouldn't do it all the time, but to try it once, I made it.
It took over an hour to simmer, but had a great flavor. Not a lot of spices in it, it just let the ingredients do all the talking.

Classic Bolognese Sauce (makes 4 servings)
1 pound Ground lean ground turkey
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 cup beef stock (I try and use which ever brand has the least amount of sodium)
1 (28-ounce) Can Diced tomatoes, not drained
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a deep pot heat oil over medium heat, then add meat and cook, the lower the heat, the more flavor the meat will have. Cook until the meat is crumbly and browned. Blend in onions, celery, garlic and carrots. Saute 5 minutes. When veggies are wilted add the beef stock, tomatoes and tomato paste and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer (low) and cook for 1 hour. Stirring occasionally, and add extra broth if needed. The sauce should be thick, but not dry. Season with salt and pepper as needed, then add parsley. Cook 2-3 minutes.

I served it with Whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
For my ingredients it was 8 WW pts. For the whole meal. So not bad. Definitely filling with all the veggies.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No more mowing.

So a few days ago I hinted at I'm not allowed to mow the grass anymore. So while I sit here, hearing the lawn mower making it's pattern around our house. I laugh. I write this with the disclaimer that you should not try this at home, and I didn't do it on purpose. I SWEAR.

When I first moved up to Huntsville. Michael was working in the yard, and I wanted to help. So I asked him if I could mow the lawn. Getting to ride around on a go cart type machine, while it throws fresh grass clippings out the side. What could be more fun. So he said yes, and warned me not to get to close to our stop sign in our yard, or to get to close to the ditch... So off I go on our lawn mower, and guess what the first thing I did... ran the lawn mower right into the ditch. Now I suspect that he knew I was going to do this, because I remember him poking his head out of the garage, shaking his head and walking down to the corner to help push the lawn mower out of the ditch... told me to try not to do it again, and off I went. Finished the whole yard...

Then few years back, Michael had to travel for work, I can't remember where he was, but I do remember thinking I was going to be the nice wife and mow the lawn for him, so that the next day when he got home from business travel, he would be able to relax, and not have to mow the lawn. So I got going, and then started to wonder why the cutting path of the lawn mower was smaller than usual. It usually takes a riding lawn mower about an hour to mow our whole lawn... It took me 3 1/2 hours that day. So when I told Michael what I had done, he was confused as to why it took me so long. But thanked me for mowing the lawn... fast forward to the next week, when he cranks up the lawn mower, and notices the same thing I had. So of course he shuts off the engine looks under the hood thingy that has the blades... then comes into the house and asks me to come outside... apparently while mowing the lawn I had somehow gotten 1 of the 2 blades caught on a tree root in our front yard, and ripped it right off the whole machine... NOW that takes some sort of stupid talent. But what can I say.... it's me. So he attaches it, and poof the lawn mower magically starts cutting a wider path.... yeah!!!

But since then I have been banned from mowing our lawn. Now I can't say that I blame Michael and I do feel sorry that he has to do it all the time. But if I can do all that after 2 times on the lawn mower in our yard, it's probably safer that I just don't attempt it.

*hangs head in shame*
Sorry Michael.

Tilapia is the fish of the day.

Superstitions... anyone... well I'm always superstitious about Mondays, because Tuesday is my Weight watcher weigh in day. Which usually means that I try to have something light, usually no pastas or salt heavy stuff. Because let me let you in on a little secret. The scale plays tricks on you. Salt is the devil when it comes to weight loss. No doubt that you've eaten a Mexican or something salty and the next day your pants are tighter, the scale claims that you have gained 4 lbs overnight.. It's just plain B.S. So why would I want to put myself through that when it comes time to jump on that scale and have another person evaluate what progress I have or have not made.... Not going to happen. I know, I know, your thinking, but it's not real. But when your motivation is lacking because the scale isn't moving like it should. Seeing a gain in your little book can be devastating. So this is what I do.

So with all the scale drama out there. We usually have fish/seafood, veggies... but it still has to be delicious. Because if I'm going to spend the calories on it, it better be worth it, right? Today's fish of the day was Tilapia. For those of you who claim to hate the fishy taste of fish. Try Tilapia, it's not "fishy" tasting. I made up this recipe a while ago, and it's just so good, that we have it often.
Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
2 Tilapia Filets
1/4 cup plain or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp pepper
Garlic salt/ or Garlic Salt grinder (4 turns)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a saute pan/oven safe pan if you have one with 2 tsp Olive oil. Mix all dry ingredients together in a shallow pan. Take Tilapia Filet's and Spray them with Pam (it's instead of using an egg) and then coat each side of fish with the mix. Place the fish filet's in pan and pan sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, then transfer to the oven until they finish cooking (flakes away when cut with a fork). Usually 8-10 minutes.

We had brussel sprouts, and Knorr's Broccoli and cheese rice side.
Our whole dinner was WW 7.5 pts.

Couponing.

I have to give a big shout out to coupons. Last year around June-July I decided to start trying to save some money on our groceries. Which lead me to a few great blogs. These women/people spend so much time and effort to help me save every single penny, quarter, dollar. They also somehow get these great giveaways like:


who has a giveaway going for a 10 dollar giftcard to Target... and how's going to try and tell me they have not been into a Target in ohh let's say the last week... Not too many people right. So this is exactly why I had to throw my name in the running. That could be a package of diapers, or a few boxes of cereal, or part of a mother's day present to some!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"It sounds like Rat patootie"...

I love the movie Ratatouille. If you've never sat down and watched it, you should. Kids or not, it's a cute animated movie. So from the Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole cookbook, that my friend Amy let me borrow. We delved into Ratatouille... and it's good. Better than I thought it would be, to be honest. So this one will be added permanently to our rotating menu. We had it with 1/2 a serving of whole wheat pasta. It tasted like a chunky vegetable spaghetti sauce, with a little kick of hot sauce. I am looking forward to the leftovers for lunch!!

Cajun Ratatouille
1 Cup Eggplant, diced
1 Cup Zucchini, diced
1 Cup Yellow Squash, diced
1 Cup Diced tomatoes (I used 1-15 oz. can)
1/2 cup black olives (left out for Michael)
1 8-10 inch link smoked sausage (package usually comes with 2)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Cup diced onions
1 Cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red and yellow bell peppers
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 cups tomato sauce (I used 1-15 oz can, and 1-8 oz can)
1/2 cup chopped thyme
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 14 inch skillet (I used a deeper skillet), heat oil over medium high heat. Saute Smoked Sausage until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Saute Onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Blend in Eggplant, zucchini squash, tomatoes, olives and sausage. Saute 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Once eggplant mixture is wilted, stir in tomato sauce, thyme, basil and oregano. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Continue to cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon into an ovenproof dish. Bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes. Serve as a vegetable casserole or as a stuffing for chicken, or with pasta.

Makes: 6-8 servings.
WW pt value of 3 pts for the Ratatouille, and then if you decide to have pasta, or something else with it...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

For the love of baking.

I love to bake... no big surprise, after the name of my blog, to the fact that if you know me... if I can find a reason to crank up my beautiful black Kitchen Aid mixer, you better believe I'm going to do it... Well here's the best part, getting to give all the baked goodies away, so I don't have to consume the extra calories.

A friend of mine Marcie from the gym, it was her husbands 30th birthday party this weekend. She is 1 of the 19 girls I know pregnant (congrats Marcie!!) with her 4 child. Her kids are just the sweetest thing, and so is she. So when she told me that it was Tab's birthday and how she was trying to get it all done, I offered to make the cake. It gives me an excuse to bake, and it helps her out, no stress of having to worry about the cake, and I can do it cheaper for her than having to buy enough cake to feed all her guests.... so she let me.....

Now I didn't get to stay for the party, but I did drop it off, and if it tasted 1/2 as good as it smelled then there were hopefully some pretty happy guests and birthday guy.... Here is how it all turned out.

3 tiered Chocolate and Vanilla Checkerboard cake, with Chocolate and Vanilla Icing. and 30 cupcakes... I think they turned out pretty cute.


I also have to say thank you to my IL's who were the lucky recipients to receive all of the leftover cake from leveling the layers out... I'm sure my father in law put those scraps to good use!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Date night!!

If you've read any of my other posts, you probably might have caught me talking about how Michael and I only go out once a month to eat. It usually some place that we haven't had in a while. Well tonight was our date night. We chose Rosie's Cantina in Huntsville, it's a local mexican place. Let's just go ahead and not kid anyone, it's not authentic Mexican, it's more of SantaFe/Tex Mex Mexican. But they have great food, the best salsa (without cilantro!) and fast service.
The main thing I love about Rosie's besides what I just mentioned, is that we can go there for dinner and I'm not going to inhaled 2,000 calories. Michael and I get their fajitas for 1 and have them prepare it without the spicy butter or the veggies in any oil, which basically means they steam the peppers and onions, then throw them on a hot skillet to crisp them up. Then throw some of the best beef (yes I splurged and got the beef) strips on top. All comes with homemade fresh tortillas, and by fresh I mean, I had to watch the waiter stand and wait for 3 to come off the tortilla press to bring them to our table!!!

So while Michael and I enjoyed a dinner without Will. Yes I love him dearly, but an adult dinner is nice too. Will got to go hang out with Grandma and Grandpa Broach. We are very lucky to have them live only 10 minutes away. They took Will to feed some ducks that hang out at their house, the chickens and roosters, ride in a Gator (tractor thingy) and run around their house for a while. He had a blast, and all the way home had some pretty big Yawn's... which means that they wore him out. I also have a sneaky suspision that Will wore them out too. Because from experience.... He's exhausting. Never wants to sit still.... EVER. But hey, he's only 2 once, and if he can run that energy out, playing outside. Then go for it right. What kinda mom would I be if he didn't have fun!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Peas and Pork.

For anyone that hasn't been around Will a million times, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret about Will. He is a picky eater, not such a big surprise if you know Michael, but the secret is that the kid loves peas... And not just any peas, they have to be frozen, then thawed with hot water.... so they aren't actually cooked.. I know it sounds gross, but this kid will eat them by the handfuls. You will never know how much my heart swells knowing that he loves veggies that much. Now not all veggies. Like I said he's a picky eater, but I'm hoping and praying that he grows out of that phase. It only took Michael 20- something years to realize that veggies weren't all bad. So there is always hope. This is just how much Will loves peas.

This was AFTER dinner, and I was wiping his hands and face, and he saw the little strainer on the counter and decided he wanted more.... and if one person comments on my messy counter tops, then they can come clean my house. Creativity usually means messy... right? Well that is what I'm going to keep telling myself.

So after my whole spiel on Will and his peas.
We had Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Vegetables.

The Roasted Pork has a Bruschetta seasoning from World market on it, I know Pork is not Bruschetta, but it smelled and tasted good. Then I roasted it in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until done.
When I buy a pork tenderloin I cut it up into sections enough for 2 servings. So we don't have a bunch of leftovers from all of our meals. So this was a 8 oz section, 4 oz servings for each of us.

As for the veggies. I had a coupon a while back for the Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers. So I bought on of the lightly sauced sides to try. It's low fat, and if you can tell by the picture, the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, are anything but what I consider "lightly sauced"... But hey, it's good and still pretty low calorie. Lima beans were our other choice of vegetable. We haven't had them in a while, and it was a special request from my former picky eater of a husband... So Lima beans it was.

So our whole meal was has a WW point value of 5. Not too bad, it basically equates to around 250-350 calories for the whole dinner. And I still have enough for a glass of milk and animal crackers for dessert!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pizza at our house.


I don't think I know a single person who doesn't love Pizza. Thin crust, thick crust, plain cheese, tons of toppings, no cheese. It has something for everybody... in our house Pizza now means homemade crust, sauce, and tons of veggies. Now some of you busy working type, might not have the time on an average Tuesday to want to tackle making your homemade pizza dough. But on a weekend I encourage you to try it 1 time. Because it will put Pizza Hut and Domino's to shame. I don't care if domino's did just redo their recipes... Mine still conquers it, with less calories and grease!!!
Now I don't want to take all the credit. The recipe for the dough I get out of Betty Crocker's cookbook. And it is another one of the tattered pages in my cookbook collection. But that is just proof positive at how good and simple it really is. The directions may seem daunting, but try it once and you will most likely agree that it was easier than it looks.

As for the homemade sauce, well I tried it once, because I started really looking at how many chemicals and sodium were added into the sauce. Not to mention the cost of buying it, b/c I can take a 1.00 worth of Tomato Sauce and make it into a healthier version of Pizza sauce... I'm going to do it. So it saves us calories, water retention and money. And I can change it according to what kind of mood I'm in... Sorry Michael, for all the times that it was a little spicier, b/c I was in a mood. You ate it and never gave me weird looks.

Pizza Crust
2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour (I use wheat most times)
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)

Mix 1 cup of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add 3 Tbsp oil and the warm water. Beat with a mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough pulls away from the side and is soft. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

For thin crusts: Heat oven to 425 degrees, Grease 2 cookie sheets or 12 inch pie pans with PAM. Divide dough in 2 balls. Pat or roll each out, to a thin even layer. Then place it onto the pan, taking a fork poke holes in the dough, so that it won't bubble up. Partially bake it 7-9 minutes or until crust begins to get brown. Add topping as bake another 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
For thick crusts: Grease 2 pans (I use 9 inch cake pans) with PAM. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough in half, and press each half in bottom of pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Move oven rack down to lowest position. Heat oven to 375 degrees, partially bake 20-22 minutes or until dough begins to brown. Add toppings and bake again for another 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Pizza Sauce
For the sauce if you like extra dipping sauce you can substitute 1 -28 oz can tomato sauce for the 2 I have listed.

1- 15 oz can Tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 - 8 oz can Tomato Sauce (no salt added)
sprinkle of rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, ground red pepper (optional if you don't like spice), parsley.
I also put a pinch of Baking Soda in the tomato sauce, it will foam up. But it helps to take some of the acidity out of the sauce... aka heartburn later.

Place all of this in a sauce pan, and on the stove for 25-30 minutes on medium heat, uncovered for 30 minutes or until thickened. You can adjust the seasoning to your tastes. Be creative!!!

As for the toppings, We love Canadian bacon, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, turkey pepperoni (which we don't always have unless I get it on sale at the store) and of course cheese. Also thanks to some friends of our in Atlanta, we had a pizza there that has sliced Roma tomatoes on it, and it was heaven, so I try and get 1 or 2 and slice it up.
For the cheese, with WW I could choose a more point friendly cheese (less calories for all you non-WW'ers) and go with a low fat or fat free, but I just don't like them. So I splurge and go for the real stuff.
I usually chop up most of the veggies and give them a little saute to cook them down. I like them, but not super crunchy on my pizza. Before I throw them on the pizza.

So that's our version of pizza. With all the toppings I use each slice comes out to 3 pts a piece. But I will put this disclaimer, if your a WW, check the toppings that you put on there. Because you may want different stuff and lower calorie cheese.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Instinctual Swings





So a few weekends ago I told everyone on facebook about how Michael and I had spent the entire weekend working on Will's swingset/jungle gym... Well there it is. We still haven't gotten the mulch for it, but we will. Needless to say it took all of 30 seconds for Will to figure out it was for him, and he started climbing the ladder to the slide. As you can see in the photo. We go out the back patio and he knows to head right up to his swing. It's a great thing to see him love to play outside rather than sitting watching television. I'm hoping that it will last a little longer. Now I tried taking about 70 pictures to get a picture of Will's smiling, giggling face as I push him in his swing, but I actually ended up with about 40 of his feet and another 30 of him looking away (note to self: learn to photograph moving objects). Maybe next time, because I know there will be a next time.

So after the wonderful dinner, that you can read about below, Michael set off to mow the lawn. Since we live in a house that was built in ohhhh 1959-1961, we have a huge yard. And yes I'm grateful most days to not be able to throw a cotton ball into my neighbors window from my house. But it also comes with a big yard to have to keep up. Now we aren't the Better homes and garden type of people... at least not yet, but Michael does a great job mowing and keeping the grass looking decent. I'll have to explain later why I'm not aloud to mow our lawn anymore. Well Will just thinks it the coolest thing ever to see Michael on the lawn mower, little does he know, in about 10 years, he will be doing it, and it won't be as exciting. Shhh, we'll let him have this for now. While I was washing dishes, Will let himself out onto our sun room, and has strategically placed a chair by the window so that he can monitor Michael's mowing..... It's just another image added to my brain that I hope never to forget.

Drumsticks and Beans

Let me preface this post with there are some random things coming. So let's get started, and let's hope I don't put you to sleep.

First, Drumsticks were on our menu. We make up a week worth of meals, then I go shopping and then we choose from that menu for the following week. I know what your thinking... Ohh Colleen on her cooking high horse. But let me explain why we do this. January of 2009, Michael and I decided to try cutting out going out to eat, because lets be honest, it gets expensive, the temptation to get foods that aren't the healthiest are wafting into your noise as you sit there staring at the free rolls or tortilla chips... It's just not fair. So we gave ourselves 1 reprieve, we can go out 1 time a month for dinner. Which usually is either for family birthdays or special reasons... fast forward to April 2010. We have managed to stay to this goal... Last year we spent less than 300 dollars the entire year eating out. Which is phenomenal!! With all that said, the only way we would have been able to continue that goal, is to make our weekly menus, and then we get to choose what I make for dinner. There's another whole post on the "I cooking" deal... but back to this story. So drumsticks.... now we could simply grill them with some BBQ sauce, but that gets boring fast. So a few years ago when I first joined WW, the had cookbooks for 2. All meals that are portioned for 2 people... Pretty great since we were a family of 2 at the time.
And one of the recipes in this cookbook now has a stained tattered page because we have made it a bagillion times. So I'm going to show you the photos first, just to get your mouth watering then give you the recipe.

Spicy Molasses-Barbecued Drumsticks (4 WW points)
Makes 2 servings

3 TBSP Bottled Chili Sauce
1 1/2 TBSP Plain or seasoned Cider vinegar
1 TBSP light Molasses
1 Garlic clove, minced
4- 3 oz skinless chicken drumsticks.

You can grill these or Oven them. I choose to oven them.
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine Chili sauce, vinegar, molasses and garlic in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring 1/2 way through, until the sauce is bubbly. Then pat the chicken dry and place on a sheet pan and bake them plain for 8-10 minutes. Then add 1/2 the sauce to the top of drumstick, bake for another 5-8 minutes. Flip the drumsticks over and then brush the remaining sauce onto the drumsticks, and finish baking 5-8 minutes or until the drumstick are done.

The other recipe that we had with these are Chinese Green beans, you know the yummy ones that are often found on a chinese buffet. Those crunchy, spicy, green beans are often fried at the buffet, hence why they taste so good. But I set out a few months ago to try and make them healthier.... And we've had them at least 1 a week since... They are just THAT good.

Chinese Green Beans (WW pts 1)
2-3 cups Frozen green beans
1 Tbsp Oyster sauce (found in the asian section of your supermarket)
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (I use the reduced Sodium)
2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp, Asian chili sauce (it has bits of red pepper flakes and red peppers, and devine)
1 tsp Olive oil, just enough to splash the pan.

Steam the green beans in a Ziplock Steam bag (they are amazing if you don't already have an addition to them). Mix the Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce, Rice wine vinegar and sugar together. Heat a Saute pan with the oil in it, you want the oil hot, but not smoking. Add the chili sauce, and garlic and saute for 30 seconds to a minute. Then add the green beans on top. Cook them for 1 minute then pour the sauce mixture on top and cook them, tossing with tongs to coat the beans until the sauce has thickened.




Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sheperd's Pie = pan of deliciousness


I know what your thinking... Wow Colleen is just post happy.... Well I've got some things that I had back logged, and now since I decided to try and do this little thing called a blog, I've gotta tell the world...hehe.
We are huge fans of diners, drive-in and dives on the foodnetwork. Guy Fieri is awesome. So last week he went to this restaurant that had Sheperd's Pie. Michael was asking me what it was, and the only way to describe it was, Meatloaf, veggies and mashed potatoes layered and baked... So that phrase intrigued Michael, and off I went to find a recipe that wasn't going to be a caloric party....

So low and behold, I found a recipe on food network.com that was chocked full of veggies, and had some pretty good reviews. I made it, and did it according to the recipe. It was delicious and filling. Thank you Ellie Krieger of Food Network, for blessing my family with this recipe. It will be made for years to come.

Sheperd's Pie Recipe (WW- 7 pts a serving)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90 percent lean or higher)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or creamery potatoes
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into florets
  • 2/3 cup 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

In a large nonstick skillet cook the meat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate. Drain any fat remaining in the skillet.

Heat the oil in the skillet over a medium heat. Add the on

ions and carrots and cook, covered, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Raise the heat to moderately-high. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and their liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes longer. Return the meat to the pan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a simmer being sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peas. Pour the mixture into a 12-cup shallow baking dish (about 11 by 9 inches).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Arrange the potatoes in a steamer basket, and steam for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower to the basket and cook until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 15 minutes longer. Mash the vegetables with a potato masher until smooth. Heat the milk, butter, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper and stir into the potato mixture.

Spread the potato mixture on top of the meat and bake until heated through, about 25 minutes.

Per Serving:

Calories 340; Total Fat 9 g; (Sat Fat 4 g, Mono Fat 3.5 g, Poly Fat 1 g) ; Protein 24 g; Carb 42 g; Fiber 7 g; Cholesterol 50 mg; Sodium 540 mg




Gone a little Cajun

With boredom setting into our kitchen, we have started trying new recipes. So far so good. I spent the better part of yesterday making Authentic Cajun Gumbo. I started from scratch no cans here.

Made the roux, and didn't even burn it!!! Which having to deal with a 2 year old and make gumbo is harder than you think. But I did it. The smell that was simmering in our kitchen was mouth watering through the whole afternoon.I added some chicken to it and just used less sausage. Which I probably didn't even need to add anyways. It was so good. I also decided that it was so thick and delicious, to leave out the rice. I know you Creole and Cajun cooks might gawk at the fact I didn't make rice with it, but for us weight watchers people. Rice = extra points... and this didn't need it.

Authentic Cajun Gumbo Recipe (WW-2 pts a cup)


Feb 9, 2010 Alissa Williams

Cajun Gumbo Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Roux (See Recipe Below)
  • 2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 2-3 lbs Crayfish tails, peeled
  • 2-3 lbs Andouille sausage, browned
  • 2 lbs lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilages
  • 2 tbs. Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning Blend
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 green Bell Peppers, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 4-6 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 1 cup tomato puree (optional)
  • 4 quarts stock (Shrimp, Chicken, Crab etc...) See below for Shrimp Stock Recipe
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped Thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup green onion tops
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 Tbs chopped, fresh basil leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs file powder (if you are not using okra)
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/4 Tsp cayenne

Directions:

  1. Heat the roux in a medium sized heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and bell pepper. Stir mixture until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, if you wish. Slowly pour in stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the browned sausage, bay leaves, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until gumbo is slightly reduced. about 1 hour. Gumbo should cook long enough for any roux flavor to mellow, cooking on low heat for 1-3 hours will allow spices to combine and will give the gumbo a rich, aromatic flavor.
  3. In a small bowl ,season the shrimp, crab meat and crayfish tails with Tony Chachere's seasoning. Add the green onion tops, thyme leaves, parsley and basil leaves. Add to stockpot, cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. File does not reheat well, if you plan to reheat the gumbo, it is important not to add file to the stockpot. Instead, pass file at the table for guests to thicken to their liking. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve in soup bowls over steamed rice.

How to Make Shrimp Stock

Make your stock the night before you plan on serving the gumbo. This will give the flavors time to set and will cut your cooking time in half for the following day. Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts of shrimp shells (what you would get for shelling 2 lbs shrimp)
  • 8 quarts cold water
  • 2 Tbs. oil

Sachet d'epices (listed below):

  • 8 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp, black peppercorns
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped, stems and all

The above ingredients are folded into a 4" square of cheesecloth and tied into a sack

Rinse the shells under cold water, sweat the shells briefly in the oil. Add shells to cold water in a large stockpot. Add parsley and sachet and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock thoroughly in a strainer layered with cheesecloth. Cool the stock completely in an ice water bath and store in refrigerator for use the following day.

How to Make Roux for Gumbo

Roux is going to be the base of your soup. Determining what type of roux to make will depend on which ingredients you will be adding to the soup. Don't be intimidated by the amount of time it takes to make the Roux, this is the single most important step in making Gumbo and it cannot be skipped. The end result will be well worth the amount of effort it takes to get this soup started.

Place a heavy,Dutch oven, (or iron skillet with deep sides) over medium heat and heat the oil until just smoking. Whisk in flour, a little at a time and cook, whisking constantly, until roux becomes smooth and thick. Continue to cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon and reaching all over bottom of pan, until roux darkens to desired color. Be careful not to produce specs of black. The roux must remain an even color throughout process. If specs appear you must start over.

  • For a Light Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the color of peanut butter. Remove about 1 cup of the light colored roux, cool completely, and set aside for seafood gumbo.
  • For a Medium Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the color of a copper penny when ready. Remove about 1 3/4 cups of the medium colored roux, cool completely, and set aside for a delicious start to File or Okra gumbo.
  • For a Dark Brown Roux, cook the mixture an additional 35 to 45 minutes. The color should resemble dark chocolate when ready. Remove all of the remaining dark roux from the pan and cool completely. Set aside for Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

Weight Watchers for me.

So most of you that know we (as in Michael and I) have lost some weight on Weight watchers (WW). Well let me toot our horns for a minute. I lost 55 lbs. Michael lost 75 lbs. Then I got pregnant with our now 2 year old son Will, which after the pregnancy, I had gained most of that back. Which took my new mommy self straight back to Weight watchers. I know it works, I've seen it and lived it. I went from a lazy non-exercising exsistance to an ehum* athletic (ok, trying to be) person.
Since walking back into the Weight watcher center and rejoining. I've had a couple great leaders that I must give props to, Susie was my first one back, and I miss her weekly pep talks and since she had to leave, I have Vicki. Who is just as bubbly, Will loves and has to give bye hugs after every meeting. So May 2008, I rejoined Weight Watchers, knowing that I was starting over... and now April 2010, I'm 72 lbs lighter. Now pick your jaws up off the ground. I know it's a lot of weight, and I've had a great support system in my Weight watchers meetings, online forums- where I met some amazing girls, and my husband. Without Michael being so supportive, and eating what I make I don't think this journey would have been nearly as "liveable". The first photo is on our honeymoon in June 2004, the second is us before Valentines 2010.



With all that said, most of the recipes I will post the WW points for. I try and choose meals that are delicious and lately a little out of our box. Thanks to a free magazine subscription I got to Saveur magazine. They might not be "point" friendly all the time. But life has to have a few splurges, or it gets boring.

Why the name you ask...

Well after a few people have mentioned it, I figured I would start a blog featuring our life. And as hard as it is to remember the Broachblog, it just wasn't fun. So instead, I chose to go with Chocolate chip cookies, because let's be honest Chocolate chip cookies are just about the best in the world. I mean the dough itself is great, then bake it and the smell fills the house with the wonderful aroma. Then you get the joy of pulling that cookie sheet out of the oven to see the perfectly browned ooey gooey little circles of heaven (ok not perfectly browned all the time, but shhhh, don't tell anyone about the burnt ones). There is nothing like fresh chocolate chip cookies.

And of course Kids. Ok right now it's only one kid- Will and he is just about the best kid in the world. Now I know everyone says their kid is the greatest, and I'm not going to lie. Will can be a handful. Especially on his bad days, but deep down I know it's just him being a 2 year old and it will get better. So for now I focus on him being a great kid and not the bad stuff. Which made me think how much a 2 year old is like labor.... It's hard, and sometimes lasts longer than I think it should, but at the end you still end up with the little person. Of course as I sit here he is talking into a empty kleenex box, and trying to give our great dane (Tilly) kisses.

So here we sit, beginning this digital journey into our life. With some of the recipes that I love, stories of Will and our family, and hopefully a few laughs. Because kids are funny and not all my recipes are going to be good. But I promise not to encourage you to try the gross ones.