Monday, February 28, 2011

Creamy Mexican Crockpot Chicken

Here is a recipe I tried this weekend. We used it to make soft tacos. Please see the notes at the bottom of the recipe. It can really be tailored to your personal taste. Enjoy!

Creamy Mexican Crockpot Chicken
6 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
½ cup salsa
1 bag frozen corn (I used half bag)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies
Chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
½ block light cream cheese

Put chicken in crock pot, cover with all ingredients except cream cheese. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Shred chicken and mix back in with light cream cheese until melted. Cook 15-20 min. until heated.

Serve as soft tacos (with lettuce, tomato, cheese, cilantro, onion, etc.) or over rice.

181 cal./2 g. fat/24 carbs/17 g. protein/5 g. fiber (Unsure of accuracy on these.)/per serving.

NOTES: Recipe is as originally copied. It makes much more than 6 servings. I would use an envelope of taco seasoning instead of chili powder, salt and pepper. Maybe use less onion and add a clove or two of garlic. Also, stir in some chopped cilantro at the end.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Half a Batch o' Hummus

I have raved before about The Schamle's Favorites hummus recipe.  I love it.  Love it, love it, love it!  But it makes a mess o' hummus. So here, I just want to repeat the recipe - halved - for my own convenience.

Half a Batch O' Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, drained, reserve liquid
1 tsp minced garlic
1 + 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
a little less than 2/3 cup tahini
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp table salt

Combine all ingredients (except bean juice) in food processor and puree.  Add bean juice until mixture takes on a smooth texture.  Or use an immersion blender.  Or a hand mixer.  I don't think this would do well in a blender.

Nutritional Info:
Serving size, 1/4 cup
Kcals: 193
Fat: 13g
Carbs: 16 g  Dietary fiber: 3 g
Protein: 5 g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2

Notes:  I use the full amount of olive oil, but only 1 T lemon juice and I make up the difference with the reserved bean juice by eyeballing how the texture looks.  I also add two pinches of salt instead of the 1/2 tsp since I'm overly sensitive to salty foods.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

White Turkey Chili

Ok.  Made this recipe today from Mel's Kitchen Cafe with some modifications, so I'll reprint here and go through it.  I'm going to warn you.  I eyeballed some of the stuff in this, so the measurements are not exact.  Still, I think my estimates are going to be pretty close.

My turkey was pre-cooked, but if yours isn't, get busy.  I also made the northern beans last night.  I'm a little long on beans around here, and true to my promise to myself, I'm trying to use up my food and not just take the easy way out all the time.  Actually, I was really proud of myself.  I made the turkey and wild rice soup, and made some homemade refried beans, and the northern beans for this dish.  But you can certainly cut corners and use canned if you don't have the storage issues I do.  Oh, the yogurt wasn't in the original recipe, but I wanted to know what kind of flavor that would add.  I really couldn't tell it was in there at all after the fact.  So if you want to substitute yogurt for part of the sour cream, you can do so without too much fear.  I wouldn't substitute yogurt for all of it though.  I think that would give a weird flavor.

1 T olive oil
3 cups of turkey, chopped bite-sized, mostly dark meat
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 can New Mexico green chilis
1 jalapeno pepper (from can), diced
3 heaping cups of northern white beans, rinsed and drained
28 oz. chicken (or turkey) stock
16 oz. fat-free sour cream
4 oz. fat-free yogurt, plain (totally optional, this was my experiment)
1.5 t cumin
.5 t cracked black pepper
.5 t salt
1 t oregano
.25 t cayenne pepper

Put olive oil in a pan and heat it.  Add onions, garlic, and bell pepper and cook until soft.  Add spices and stir through vegetables for at least a minute to develop some flavor.  Add the chicken stock, beans, green chilis and turkey and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, yogurt, and jalapenos.  Serve immediately.  Those little salad tortilla strips are really good on top.

Nutritional Data based on 10 - 1 cup servings:

KCals/serving: 256
Fat: 5 g
Carbs: 32 g  Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 21 g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 5

This is a pretty darn good meal.  At 5 points, I'm going to enjoy this pretty much every time I sit down to eat.  But.  I think it was only marginally close to the kind of heat I like in my chili.  I may end up doctoring this recipe a little, mostly upping the pepper content. Perhaps more cayenne.  A few more roasted jalapenos.  But still, a very solid, tasty white meat chili.  Now let's just hope that that was cultured sour cream I used!
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Turkey Overload: Meal Planning and a Call for Ideas

I have been trying to do some better meal planning.  When I started thawing a turkey last week, I thought that I would be ready to tackle turkey dishes around Thursday of  last week.  It took significantly longer than that for the turkey to thaw in the fridge, so I moved on to other dishes.  Unfortunately, those dishes lasted me longer than I anticipated.  When I finally got around to cooking the turkey on Monday, I was still working through other leftovers.  Now, I'm faced with an entire 13-pound deboned, skinless turkey sitting in some premium turkey broth  that HAS to be processed this weekend or thrown away!


So, meal planning for this week is heavy on the turkey.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I like brussel sprouts

Following up on my earlier post, I was true to my word and bought and prepared brussel sprouts.  I followed the recipe suggested by Mama Bee from over at Smitten Kitchen, and guess what?  I liked 'em.  Okay, the recipe did call for a few slices of pancetta, which I didn't have, but bacon I did, and it didn't exactly explain whether one should drain the bacon fat before preparing the sauce, which leaves me with a rather tasty, but way expensive vegetable dish, points-wise, calorie-wise, and any-which-wise you look at it.  It was, however, good.

For starters, I thought brussel sprouts were a winter vegetable.  Nonetheless, I had to pay $3.69 for 12 oz. of sprouts.  I was shocked to have to pay that much for a simple vegetable in season.  That is as much if not more than asparagus.  Perhaps it wasn't fear of the sprouts that kept me away all this time. But, I kept the cost down by having a number of the items requested on hand.  I had some frozen bread loaf-ends in the freezer, which I gave a spin in the food processor, mixed with a small amount of olive oil and toasted in the oven.  Swell.  No out of pocket cost there.  I had the onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and bacon on hand as well.

This is how it looked when prepared as directed.  I had to move one of those sprouts on top so you'd actually believe I made the things.

I paired this vegetable with some turkey thigh and some of the leftover vegetable lasagna.  (Yes, I am STILL eating on that stuff and it is still HO-HUM.)

And I would be willing to try brussel sprouts some other ways.  For instance, I thought the pan smelled mighty good when all it held was brussel sprouts, bacon, onions, and garlic.  If I didn't add the balsamic vinegar and beef stock, I'd have probably enjoyed those sprouts just as much, if not more.  (I'm coming to the sneaking suspicion that many recipes should be discarded at the point where the smell of it  makes your mouth water--recipe be damned!)

So I'm glad I tried the sprouts.  Maybe when I win the lotto, I can have them more often.

Balsamic braised brussel sprouts a la Smitten Kitchen
4 servings
Kcal:  231
Fat: 15 g  Saturated fat: 6 g
Carbs: 18 g
Protein: 8 g
Fiber: 4 g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 5
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Brunch

 Breakfast today was a nice, hearty huevos rancheros.  Just a pair of corn tortillas topped with some leftover northern beans I was given, generously sprinkled with jalapenos, then topped with New Mexico salsa an two poached eggs.  Fantastic and what a way to wake up the taste buds.
Then for lunch, a little of this.  A lovely split pea soup.  Can you tell I was feeling a little in need of comfort food today?  Oh well, it's all tracked on the diet.  I have to go exercise now.  :)

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bloody Breakfast

Would you eat this for breakfast?

I do.

Raspberries over steel-cut oats with a side of grapefruit and a slice of spinach quiche.  Two cups of black coffee.

My morning ritual.

Man, it's good to get up in the morning.
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Lemon Cake

I had found a recipe on a cooking forum I belong to and it sounded really, really good! I copied it and worked on trying to reduce the caloric content a bit. Here is the end result. I was a little disappointed I didn't reduce the calories more, but am happy with the result. If you can stick to one serving you won't do too badly. It is a delicious cake.

Lemon Cake (my version)
by Leanne D
9 servings
248 cal./serving
~11 grams fat/serving

Preheat gas oven to 350 farenheit (325 for electric oven)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend
1/2 cup Egg Beaters (equal to 2 large eggs)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsps baking bowder
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
Zest of 1 or 2 lemons, depending on how lemony you want it to be. (I used zest of two.)

Cream butter and Splenda together, beat Egg Beaters in one half at a time. Sift 1/2 of flour and baking powder into the butter/Splenda mixture. Stir and pour in 1/4 cup milk. Stir until well blended. Repeat with last half of dry ingredients and then the rest of the milk. Stir in the zest.

Pour into a 9x9 or 8x8 cake pan or round pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 35 min. at 350 derees or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

1/4 cup sugar (I did not replace the sugar here as I was afraid it would affect the glaze.)
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix sugar and lemon juice and pour over hot cake in oven. Turn oven off and let cake sit in oven for about 10 minutes.

Cut into 9 servings.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Anyone Else Ever Do This?

When I was a kid and my mother made chicken or turkey, my sister and I got to break the breastbone.  Or wishbone as we liked to call it.  Whomever scored the keel bone got their wish.

It's weird, but I can't make myself throw these things away.  So if you ever come to my house and are in need of some luck, some mojo, or just want a bit of friendly competition, Just ask.  Seriously.  These things are starting to pile up.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore

This is one of my most trusted cookbooks. A gift from my Gram.

I love this cookbook.

I would guess that it was put together in the early 80s by the American Baptist Women of the Twenty-Sixth Street Baptist Church in Huntington, West Virginia.

My Gram is in her 90s. Lady Elsie May, we call her. Like the rose. She was born, I believe, in 1918. She was married and a mother during the Great Depression.She still attends the Twenty-Sixth Street Baptist Church, to which she drives herself every Sunday when she feels up to it and the weather is decent. She also goes to the church to quilt on Wednesdays. When I was a kid, sometimes she would take us to church with her on Sundays. I didn't understand the Baptist church. It was a lot different than the church we attended.

It was a rather modern building. Probably built in the 60s. They had these GIANT murals depicting different scenes from the Bible. And honestly, they had the most intimidating paintings of Jesus I had ever encountered. I think it was because they were so big. It was just GIANT Jesus. And every mural was painted in the same sleepy shades of blue and grey. Like it was perpetually overcast wherever Jesus went. That's what I remember about the Twenty-Sixth Street Baptist Church.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Creamy Potato Soup

I have made this soup several times and everyone loves it. I wanted to try a "lighter" version, so I tried that this past Sunday. I had worried it wouldn't be as creamy without the heavy cream, but it turned out great! I will post the original recipe and note my substitutions in parentheses.

Creamy Potato Soup
by Leanne D
Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter (I did not substitute here, but you could use canola or olive oil.)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
2 to 3 cups diced ham, about 1 pound (I substituted chopped smoked turkey.)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth (Vegetable broth can be substituted if you prefer.)
1 cup water
4 to 5 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 cup heavy cream (I substituted fat free half-and-half.)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk, more if needed to thin (I used fat free half-and-half.)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, and ham. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer. Add broth, water and potatoes; cover and cook for about 25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Whisk flour into the heavy cream until smooth; stir into the hot mixture. Stir in the half-and-half or milk. Taste and add salt and pepper, as desired. Mash slightly with potato masher to thicken and add more milk if needed. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

We like it topped with shredded cheddar jack cheese.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Zucchini Bread - Two Ways

Leanne D got me to thinking about zucchini bread.  I had some zucchini in the fridge and decided to treat the kids at school tomorrow, who, I'm sure, will be sorely disappointed when they find out they aren't getting a snow day.  So I pulled out my trusty cookbook and went to one of my favorite recipes.

Since Leanne insists that her zucchini bread is a favorite because she uses whole wheat flour, I decided to give it a try.  I made one batch for the kids the traditional way with white flour and whole sugar.  I made a second, heart-healthier version with whole wheat and half the sugar.  Both versions worked well. This is my favorite zucchini bread recipe and it comes from a church cookbook my grandmother gave me when I was in my early 20s.  But more on that later.

In both recipes, I substituted applesauce for the oil.  In the whole wheat batch, I substituted sucralose for half the sugar, and since I was a bit low on zucchini by that point, I added a few carrots to round it out.  The first batch was just as expected.  It produced a nice, high loaf.  The whole wheat batch looked a little different.  It didn't rise as high and I attribute that to the decreased sugar.  Sugar creates texture as well as taste.  Sucralose just dissolves and offers no structure at all.  Because the sugar didn't react with the zucchini as much in the second batch, it was much thicker and the crust is a bit craggy looking.  The loaf is denser as well.  Although applesauce will never recreate the tender crumb that you get with oil, it is a small price to pay for the decreased calories.  In any event, both batches produced great looking and great tasting loaves.  Thanks for the great suggestion, Leanne!

3 cups flour (all purpose or whole wheat)
3 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup applesauce, no sugar added (or oil, depending on your preference)
2 cups sugar (or one cup sugar and one cup sucralose)
1 T cinnamon
2 T vanilla extract
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat eggs, add sugar, vanilla, and zucchini.  Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.  Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before cutting. 

Nutritional Information.
Servings size: 2 loaves, 8 slices per loaf or 16 servings
Kcal: 204
Fat: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 48g  Dietary fiber: 4g
Protein: 4g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 (made with whole wheat, 1/2 sucralose, and applesauce)


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Best Foods I Ever Ate, Episode 1

I love food.  Nooooo, you say.

Yes, I swear.  I love food. And National Peanut Butter Lover's Day last week got me to thinking about my favorite foods.  And even more specifically, the best foods I ever ate.

What are the best foods you ever ate?  It's a hard question.  So I decided I was going to explore some of the most memorable tastebud tinglings that I have had the pleasure to enjoy.

We will start with a trip to Florence, Italy.  Florence is a fantastic place.  They have David.  They have beautiful tile roofs.  After an afternoon of sightseeing, climbing to the top of Il Duomo, and viewing the Baptista, you know what would sound good about now?

Ice cream.