Thursday, April 14, 2011

Really getting creative here...

So last fall, I picked up this box of instant hot apple cider mix packets.

Let's just say they didn't go over swimmingly in my house.

So they're still here.

I wanted to make sugar cookies for my sugary-sweet children. Then, I spied the apple cider packets in the pantry.

And I thought, "I wonder what that would be like."

So I made cookies. With apple cider mix in them.

I wonder if anyone will bravely try this "recipe" of mine...

Ahem...Apple Cider Cookies

What You Need:
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 individual packets of apple cider mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cinnamon and sugar for rolling the cookies
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar and cider mix. Add egg and vanilla. Then, add baking powder and flour.
  3.  Roll into balls slightly smaller than ping pong balls. Roll in sugar.
  4. Bake ten minutes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Use It or Lose It Day 5

No recipe to share today, but I wanted to update anyway to show what we used today.

Breakfast: cottage cheese, egg, and whole wheat toast with butter

Lunch: refried beans (from last night's pinto beans) with Flat Out wrap and Queso Fresco; cucumber slices

Dinner: turkey burger on whole wheat bread (no buns!); oven-baked potato wedges; brussels sprouts

Snack: fruit cocktail

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pinto Beans in Smoky Tomato Sauce (Use it/Lose it day 4)

Breakfast: Cheese Grits and milk

Lunch: Fried Rice (using the one portion of Steak Em I have left, along with the veggies in my house right now)

Dinner: Pinto Beans in Smoky Tomato Sauce (recipe follows) with rice and green beans

Snack: Applesauce with cinnamon sprinkled on top

Pinto Beans in Smoky Tomato Sauce
(Whole sauce recipe is 3 Points Plus value)

What You Need:
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp chipotle powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked pinto beans (1 cup per person should do)
How it's Done:
  1. Sautee the onion in the olive oil until soft (about five minutes). Add the garlic, cooking and stirring another 30 seconds. Stir in the seasonings.
  2. Serve with pinto beans & rice. Queso fresco is excellent on top.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Onion Dip with Greek Yogurt (Use it/Lose it day 3)

So far, so good! We've got plenty of food and haven't had to get too creative. Here's what was on the menu for day three:

Breakfast: Blueberry Buttermilk Bread; vanilla yogurt with blueberries; milk

Lunch: Boiled Water; apple wedges with peanut butter

Dinner: Beef Stir Fry over Rice (used the flank steak from the freezer, the Meyer lemons (called them "oranges") in my produce bin, the Green Giant teriyaki vegetables from the freezer, some fresh broccoli, onions, soy sauce, ginger, and cornstarch to make this)

Snack: Onion Dip with cucumber slices and raw broccoli (recipe follows)

Onion Dip - 1 Points Plus value per serving
Serves 12

What You Need:
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 cups plain low-fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • salt and pepper to taste
How it's Done:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill overnight (or all day).
  2. Serve with veggie sticks, crackers, bread cubes...whatever!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread (Use it/Lose it day 2)

Breakfast: "fried" egg, cottage cheese patties, milk, and toast with butter

Lunch: Blueberry Buttermilk Bread (recipe follows), cheddar cheese cubes, and kiwi

Dinner: cheese ravioli in a light Parmesan white sauce, green beans

Snack: apple wedges

This bread is hearty, with a nice biting texture to it. It's not as soft as many blueberry breads, making it ideal for a nontraditional lunch feature...or perfect for brunch. The oats and oat flour add to the texture, and the buttermilk gives it a delicious flavor. Also, most quick bread recipe serving sizes are dismally small. Not this one. I calculated the Points Plus value based on eight servings...a wonderful slice size for this loaf.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread - 4 Points Plus value
Serves 8

What You Need:
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (or fresh...I had frozen on hand) tossed with 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, plus 1/4 cup oat flour (process oats into a flour and then measure it)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can use 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar in a cup of milk, if you prefer)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8x4" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, oat flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir only until combined.
  4. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  5. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until pick inserted near center comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs or blueberry can be expected)
  6. Cool completely. If you can help yourself, don't eat the loaf until the next day. Quick breads are always better on day two, after they've had a chance to age.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Use it/Lose it Day One

Okay folks. Here we go. The "Use it or Lose it" personal challenge has begun. Here are the results from day one...

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with granola and bananas

Lunch: pita bread toasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, sliced cucumbers and bell peppers, with Greek yogurt-onion dip (recipe coming soon).

Dinner: Spanish Black Beans and Rice (recipe follows) with sour cream and cheddar cheese; steamed broccoli

Snack: apple wedges with natural peanut butter

Spanish Black Beans and Rice - 8 Points Plus value (does not include sour cream or cheese)
Serves 6

What You Need:
  • 1 cup dried black beans (sorted and rinsed and soaked overnight)
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper (I chose red), diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
How it's Done:
  1. Cook the beans until almost tender. Puree half of them and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the onion and pepper in olive oil until tender (about five minutes). Add the garlic and cook and stir another minute or so.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Stir in the tomato, beans, and rice. Tranfer the mixture to a 2 quart baking dish and put it in the oven. Pour water over the mixture until it's completely covered with water.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for an hour to an hour and a half, until rice is cooked through. Add more water as needed.
  6. Let cool a few minutes before sprinkling with cilantro or chives or parsley, slicing into squares, and serving.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Use It or Lose It

Normally, I don't play the "pantry challenge" game, where a home cook works diligently to use up what's on hand instead of going shopping. I appreciate the sentiment, but what do you gain? You end up with an empty pantry and have to spend more all at once than usual to replenish it.

No, I prefer to shop regularly and keep a well-stocked pantry.


But I find myself in the position of needing to use up what's on hand, because we're moving to Germany in about ten weeks.

It's use it or lose it time. Well, no. That's not quite accurate. It's use it or donate it time.

I'm going to spend the next ten weeks making meals out of what's on hand (and buying fresh foods as needed, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, and bread). I'll update as frequently as I can and share my menu with you.

Whatever's left right before we leave Georgia will be donated to a local food bank.

Here's what I'm starting with:


Baking Goods:
  • 12 pounds flour (some all-purpose and some whole wheat)
  • 3 pounds granulated sugar
  • 1 pound confectioner's sugar
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • roughly 500 packets of Splenda
  • 20 packets of Truvia
  • 1 1/2 cups egg replacer
  • a small box of baking soda
  • brand-new can of baking powder
  • 3 pounds masa harina
  • 2 pounds corn meal
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 12 oz unsweetened shredded coconut
  • box of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 pounds all-vegetable shortening
  • can of cooking spray
  • about 1 1/2 liters extra virgin olive oil
beans & rice
  • 2 1/2 pounds dried black beans
  • 2 pounds dried great northern beans
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 pounds dried lentils
  • 5 4 pounds white sushi rice
  • 2 1/2 pounds organic harvest medley rice
Breakfast stuff:

  • most of a box of Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 pound of grits
  • 1 pound of old-fashioned oats
  • 6 oz cherry vanilla granola
  • 4 ox chocolate delight granola
  • enough Fiber One pancake mix to make about 8 pancakes
Beverage stuff:

  • 4 3 packets of Crystal Light
  • a box of iced tea bags
  • an unopened box of apple cider mix
  • enough mocha mix for four to six cups of mocha
Canned / Boxed goods:

  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes
  • a large can of fruit cocktail
  • small can cranberry sauce
  • 1 box Betty crocker instant potatoes
  • 2 boxes instant pudding mix
  • popping corn
  • popping corn oil

  • 4 servings easy mac (I know, I know)
  • 1/3 pounds mini rotelle wheels
  • 1 pound mini farfalle
  • 1 pound whole wheat rotini
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
Plus various spices and seasonings.


  • 12 oz frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 pound fordhook lima beans
  • 32 oz All Whites
  • frozen minced parsley and chives
  • coffee beans
  • box of Green Giant teriyaki vegetables
  • 1 serving of peas and corn in herb butter sauce
  • cheese ravioli
  • pork roast
  • box of turkey burgers
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 pound corn
  • large chicken
  • flank steak
  • family pack chicken drumsticks
  • 1 or 2 servings of Steak Ems
  • some marrow bones for the dogs
  • 5 lb black eyed peas
  • 5 4 pounds green beans
Because the stock is constantly changing, I won't list the contents of my fridge. It has lots of fresh fruits, veggies, butter, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and condiments, and always will (well...the very last week we'll be lacking, I'm sure).

Another benefit of doing this? The potential government shutdown will impact my husband's Army pay. If we go into shut down mode, we get no pay. Fun times. (phew)

So here goes. I've got a recipe for Spanish black beans and rice to share with you tomorrow...and some blueberry bread this weekend!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Getting Back to Business

Thank you for all of your support in this difficult time. I'm getting to a place where my medications are levelling out in my system and I feel pretty good. I've been so sick of being out of commission! It was really nice to get back in the kitchen and create a meal today. I hope you enjoy it! ...and expect more, because I'm ready to get back to cooking!

Spanish tortilla is a potato and egg dish, not a tortilla like we use in Mexican cuisine. Don't worry about all the olive oil you use making it. Once you drain it off, it ends up only being 1/4 of a cup for six servings.

Spanish Tortilla
Serves 6 (5 Points Plus value per serving)

What You Need:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
How it's Done:
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it glistens. After a few minutes, add the potatoes and onions, turning them over with a spatula to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the potatoes and onions, turning every few minutes so as not to allow them to brown. You want the potatoes to soften so that they are easily pierced with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs and season them with salt and pepper. Heat your oven to 350 degrees (this is the easiest way to finish cooking the tortilla).
  • Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them in a colander over a bowl, reserving the oil.
  • Pour about two tablespoons of the reserved oil back into the skillet and return the potatoes and onions to the skillet. Place over medium heat.
  • Pour the beaten eggs over the potatoes. Cook, undisturbed, about eight to ten minutes at medium-low, until the edges are set.
  • Slide your spatula around the edges and under the tortilla to loosen it from the skillet.
  • Move the skillet to the preheated oven and finish cooking (about ten minutes).
  • Slice and serve.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Have..

a post I'd love for you to read. It will help explain where I've been. Later, I'm making slow cooker cheeseburger soup, a recipe I intend to share with you here. Once again, I appreciate your support and patience. This has been a trying time for my family and me. Hang in there with me. Recipes are coming back. :) I miss you!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Weekly Shopping Trip + Lupus

Just to catch you up: I've not been posting really at all lately, save for some shopping trip reports and a giveaway. I have been cooking. Yesterday I made a delicious meal that I couldn't get a picture of but am going to repeat next week just so I can share it with you.

But mostly, I've been in bed.

I'm in the process of being diagnosed with lupus. I guess it's early to say that, as it can take years to diagnose. But all my symptoms seem to point to lupus. I'm exhausted all the time, and that's the worst part. I see the rhumatologist at the end of March. Hopefully, he will have some treatment for me.

Until then, please be patient with me. I'll do everything I can.

Now then...

My weekly shopping trip. $20 just doesn't go very far these days when you want to buy only natural foods, does it? Sure, I could coupon myself to death and get huge deals on dry cereals, cake mixes, cookies, and stuff like that. But try to stay on the outside of the aisles and stay in budget. Tricky stuff! It takes planning and sale hunting! Here's what I got for just under $20 this morning:

I could have used some lunch meat but I couldn't afford the natural stuff so I went without instead. Here's my list with prices:

  • cheddar sliced cheese, 8 oz $1.69 plus 50 cent coupon on the shelf
  • whole wheat tortillas (8 pack) $1.29
  • Rudi's organic whole wheat bread $1.99 plus a 50 cent coupon on the shelf
  • pure maple syrup $4.09
  • pummelo (giant sweet grapefruit from what I gather, first time trying) $2.00
  • cantaloupe $1.68
  • Empire apples on sale for 50 cents a pound - 2.95 lbs $1.48
  • cucumber 69 cents
  • gallon 1% milk $2.79
  • family size orange juice concentrate $1.89
total with surcharge $19.57

I am really trying to stay away from processed foods as much as possible. I can't stop buying them completely (I mean, I could, but my quality of life would decrease) but I am careful about which ones I spend my money on. I don't do diet foods at all. Doing Weight Watchers without diet foods is not only more satisfying, but it's also showing me superb results on the scale!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Monthly Shopping Trip

I did my big monthly shopping trip over the last couple of days. Here's what I bought and what I spent:

  • Babybel Cheeses (2) $4.78
  • Instant Fat-free Milk $6.96
  • Sharp Cheddar Sticks $2.50
  • Low-fat Mexican blend cheese $1.89
  • Low-fat Italian blend cheese $1.89
  • Salted Butter $2.89
  • Low-fat Cream Cheese $1.79
  • Ice Cream (4) $10.37
  • Boxed Frozen Vegetables (4) $3.96
  • Bagels (2) $1.50
  • Lunchmeat (ham and chicken) $3.50
  • Personal Care Items (several) $19.50
Total with Surcharge = $67.01

Publix Trip #1
  • 10-grain bread $2.00
  • 15-grain bread that I thought was on sale but wasn't $3.89
  • diet cola $.79
  • bananas (2.5 lb) $1.70
  • blueberries $2.99
  • strawberries $2.99
  • Greek yogurt $3.99
  • natural peanut butter $2.69
  • ricotta cheese $2.19
  • frozen squash $1.39
Total with tax $25.36

Publix Trip #2 (to take advantage of some sales this week)
  • frozen garlic bread (2) $2.79
  • Simply Orange with Pineapple (2) $6.00
  • bananas (2.86 lb) $1.97
  • sliced cheese (cheddar and muenster) $4.00
  • strawberries (they're so good right now!) $2.99
  • pizza crust that I thought was on sale but wasn't $4.79
  • frozen boxed vegetables (3) $3.00
  • fresh steam-in-bag veggies (stir fry mix and cauliflower) $2.00
  • popping corn (2) $4.69
  • Publix brand toilet paper $.01
  • diet coke (2) $3.00
  • vitamin water zero $1.49
  • pizza crusts that WERE on sale (2) $3.69
Total with tax = $47.29

Three trip total = $139.66

I'll need another couple of trips for more fruit, some milk, and some eggs, throughout the month. But I'm really pleased with how my budget is shrinking. I owe this to stocking up on sales, mostly, but also proper planning. I don't use coupons, for the most part.

Monday, February 14, 2011

CSN Giveaway WINNER!

Happy Valentine's Day, Lovelies!

The winner of my latest CSN Stores giveaway is......

Andrea, congratulations! I'm so happy for you! I hope you enjoy your prize!

If you didn't win, don't lose heart. I'll host another giveaway really soon!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Valentine's Day Present for my Readers

It's time for a....


Dear Friends,

This will be our second Valentine's Day together! Thank you for visiting my humble little blog. Thank you for your encouraging comments -- I love it when you leave me notes! To celebrate YOU, readers, I've teamed up with CSN Stores again. I'm giving away a $50 code good at any of CSN's 200+ sites!

What will you use your code for? It's up to you! Here's how to enter:

  1. Be a public follower of this blog via Google Friend Connect. This is mandatory for entry. Leave a comment. Be sure I can contact you, either via your Blogger profile or by leaving your email address in your comment. 
  2. Extra Entry: Leave a link to the product you'd most like to buy from any CSN site. Again, make sure I can contact you if you're the winner!
  3. Another extra entry: Tell me how you plan to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, either with your partner or your child, or your friend, or yourself!
This giveaway is open to US residents only. I will use to select a winner from all entrants on Sunday, February 13, 2011. All entries must be received NO LATER THAN 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, February 12, 2011.

Best of luck! And thanks again!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Spicy Lentil & Sausage Soup

Ode to a Lentil

Lentil, your wholesome.
Lentil, you're tasty.
Lentil, you make my
Dinnertime hasty.

Okay, so I'm no Robert Frost. But I do love me some lentils! And what's not to love? They're nutritional powerhouses. They're just about as cheap as food comes these days. They're versatile. They're quick. And they're delicious. This soup has just three main ingredients, yet the flavors that come out of it suggest a much more complex recipe. Warm your belly and your taste buds this winter. Belly up to a bowl of lentil soup. Here's a great way to make it.

Spicy Lentil & Sausage Soup
Serves 4 or 6 (8 Points Plus value at 4 servings; 5 Points Plus Value at 6 servings)

What You Need:
  • 1 lb turkey sausage (hot is what I used)
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade is best by far)
  • salt & pepper to taste
How it's Done:
  1. Brown the turkey sausage, but do not drain when you're done.
  2. Add the chicken stock.
  3. Add the lentils.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender but not mushy.
  5. If the soup is too thick, add more stock. I like mine thick. Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

One year ago: Buttermilk Bread

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Menu Plan: 1/26 through 2/2

A day late, but here nonetheless. Here's my weekly menu plan for dinner:

Wednesday (yesterday): Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Thursday (today): Crock Pot Italian Chicken & Veggies on Rotini; Whole Wheat dinner roll

Friday: Burgers on Sandwich Thins & Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Saturday: Spanish Tortilla & baked apple pancake

Sunday: Classic American Pot Roast

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Lentil Soup with Turkey Sausage

Wednesday: Steak, Fries, Broccoli, and Dinner Rolls

What's on your menu this week? Are you trying anything new?

Pasta with Vodka Sauce...on Weight Watchers!

I want to take minute to talk to you all about one of most dieter's pet peeves. The ever-present Food Police. You know the type. They are always asking things like, "Should you be eating that?" or "Are you allowed to eat that on Weight Watchers?" or "Isn't that high in fat/calories/carbs?"

First: If you love a person and truly have their best interest at heart, phrase the question nicely, calmly, and in a caring manner. We might still snip at you, but your intentions will show through and we'll appreciate the support. I mean, if I was about to sit down to a pan full of brownies, I'd want my husband to ask me if I really thought that was a good idea. I would want the support.

But if I'm sitting down to a brownie a la mode, with a big ol' grin on my happy face, I've already counted the points values for those items on my plate. I've planned. I've sacrificed. And gosh darn it, I'm going to enjoy every bite of it.

And I'm allowed to eat whatever I want to eat. Even brownies. Even a la mode.

And so Food Police asking if I can/should/really want to/am allowed to eat that decadent dessert are just nosy and rude.

Weight Watchers isn't about deprivation. As a matter of fact, we're encouraged to treat ourselves, however we see fit, every week, even!

This recipe uses vodka sauce. Vodka sauce has heavy whipping cream in it! Yes, even heavy whipping cream has a place in Weight Watchers.

This is a Weight Watchers recipe, mildly modified to suit what I had on hand. And it goes from pan to table in the time it takes to cook the pasta!

Pasta with Vodka Sauce
Serves 6 (9 Points Plus value per serving)

What You Need:
  • 12 oz pasta (penne is traditional but use what you have)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
How it's Done:
  1. Cook pasta al dente and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute' the onion and garlic for three minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for about five minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  4. Pour in the vodka, cook and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, for three minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Cook and stir three more minutes.
  6. Toss sauce with the pasta. Yields about one cup per serving.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Announcing Something Exciting...

What would you do with a cool $50 from CSN Stores? Would you pick up a new laptop messenger bag?

Or maybe you're in the market for a new baker's rack. This one would look stylish in the kitchen!

No matter what you're looking for, you can find it at I've been fortunate to work with CSN stores as a preferred blogger for several months now, doing giveaways and reviews. I think very highly of the company, and I look forward to giving one of my lucky readers the chance to get to know CSN Stores, too. Look for the giveaway very soon!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

A really great way to stretch your grocery budget AND to make your family think they're getting a great treat is to serve breakfast for dinner. I do it once a week now. I was afraid that when I started Weight Watchers, I'd have to give up my breakfast for dinner routine. As a matter of fact, I thought I'd have to give up a lot of things.

As it turns out, I gave up nothing, except for 35 pounds so far (since mid-September). I still eat everything I used to eat. I just watch my portion sizes. I have never, not once, felt deprived, or "on a diet" since beginning with Weight Watchers. And that's key to sticking to a weight loss plan, isn't it? Feeling satisfied!

Last night, we had pumpkin waffles (two waffles each, for just 5 points!) and baked apples. It was delicious, satisfying, and belly-warming on that cold winter night. I want to share with you the recipe for baked apples. I modified it slightly from the original Weight Watchers recipe, but the Points Plus value remains the same.

Baked Apples
serves 6 (5 points each)

What You Need:
  • 6 apples (I used red delicious, because they were on sale!)
  • 12 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped toasted pecans
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each apple, so that it stands up straight in your baking dish.
  3. Scoop out the core with a knife and spoon or a melon baller, but leave the bottom intact.
  4. Fill each apple with 2 Tbsp raisins. Sprinkle them with the cinnamon.
  5. Combine the cider and maple syrup. Pour this around the apples.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for about an hour. Baste the apples with the syrup/juice mixture every ten minutes.
  7. Top each apple with 1 Tbsp yogurt and 1 tsp chopped pecans. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pardon My Dust

...I'm changing some things on the blog. Weight Watchers is important to me. It's already helped me to lose over 35 pounds. Now, I'm reaching out and sharing my journey. You can expect home-cooked, healthy recipes. No weird processed foods. No added fiber (Fiber One..blech!). Just the same good stuff as always... with Points attached.

I'm looking for new blog design items right now, so we're going to have a period of awkward adjustment.

It's gonna be a great year!


Saturday Baking

I got myself a little present. A pizelle maker. I've been waiting until Saturday to use it, because my Weight Watchers Points reset on Saturdays, and it's the day I've designating for relaxing my eating AND for baking.

So I made some yummy cookies.
This is a messy project. Keep a wash cloth handy.

I first tried a pizelle at the home of an Italian friend. She made traditional, anise-flavored cookies. I was impressed not only with the flavor, but also the texture of the cookie and its presentation.

Ever since then, I've wanted a pizelle maker. I got mine from for about $50.
Pizelle makers' nooks and crannies are much shallower than waffle irons'.

Pizelles can be formed into cannoli shells, waffle cones, or any number of finger foods (fruit and cream in pizelle bowls would be gorgeous). However, they're super yummy plain, straight off the cooling rack. And that's how we're eating them today.

Chocolate Pizelles
makes 24 large cookies, at 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus value each cookie

What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled (salted sweet cream butter)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
How it's Done:
  1. Plug in and preheat your pizelle maker. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with melted butter (only do this before your first batch of the day).
  2. Beat eggs with sugar until smooth and creamy yellow. Add butter and cocoa powder.
  3. Gently fold in flour and baking powder only until combined.
  4. Drop by heaping tablespoon onto preheated pizelle maker and close the lid.
  5. Bake 30 to 45 seconds each batch. Remove from maker with spatula. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Menu Plan 1/19 through 1/26

To help keep variety in our menus, I've implemented a commonly used strategy in my meal planning. The skeleton of the plan is done for me, and all that's left to do is fill in the blanks. Here's what I mean:

Every Monday, I'll serve leftovers. On Tuesdays, poultry will make an appearance on my table. Wednesdays will fill us with some sort of beef. Thursdays are reserved for my Crock Pot or a casserole dish, often featuring beans. Fridays are my junky days (made wholesome, of course), with hand-held foods like burgers, pizza, tacos, or a simple pasta dish. Saturdays, it's breakfast for dinner. And Sundays will always feature a traditional roasted family meal, like ham or whole roasted chicken, or roast beef.

Having the plan in place speeds up menu planning and helps me make sure I'm serving a wide variety of foods. Here's what this week looks like:

Wednesday: Shepherd's Pie

Thursday: Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham

Friday: Bowties with Sausage and Veggies

Saturday: Pumpkin Waffles & Baked Apples

Sunday: Roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken Soup with Butter Dumplings & Toasted Baguettes with cheese

Wednesday: Chicken-fried steak, rice, and collard greens

What's on your menu plan for the week? Do you have a weekly guide like me?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Boiled Water

For my birthday, my mother bought me the Bittman book collection, How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I'm so excited because I love Bittman, his food philosophy and cooking style.

Today, I made the most interesting soup. It's really just bread and water. And Bittman calls it Boiled Water.

And you know what? It's simple. And fast.

And delicious.

It tastes like grilled cheese. Grilled Cheese Soup.

Boiled Water
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

What You Need:
  • 4 cups of water
  • 6 to 10 cloves of garlic, crushed (I used minced garlic instead and used 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 bay leaf (didn't have, so I added some oregano instead)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thick slices of French or Italian bread, stale (I used a baguette and did three small slices per bowl)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish (I skipped it)
How it's Done:
  1. Bring to a boil the water with the garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaf (or oregano). Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Toast bread in it. It's quick, maybe a minute total cooking time.
  3. Put the bread in each of four bowls. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  4. Bittman says to strain your broth here. I didn't strain mine. It's up to you.
  5. Ladle one cup of broth over each bowl.  Serve immediately.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Grocery Trip: mid-January through mid-February

I went to three stores (Publix, WalMart, and the post commissary) for my shopping for the month. I did very well, because I bought NO nonsense. Here's what I bought:


Lenders Bagels B1G1F 2 bags @ $2.09
Cabbot Greek Vanilla Yogurt 2 tubs @ $3.99 each
Cabbot Plain Greek Yogurt 1 tub @ $3.99
Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Rotini 2 @ $1.79 each
Ronzoni bow ties & ziti (B1G1F) 1 each @ $1.39
Hunts Spaghetti Sauce 3 Jars @ $1 each
Whole Grain Cheddar Goldfish $1
Jollytime microwave popcorn @ 1.00 each plus a $.50 coupon, 2 boxes for $1.00
Half ham, $12.71 on sale
Granola, 2 bags (Back to Nature brand) @ $3.59 each
Publix reduced calorie wheat bread, 2 loaves @ $1.69 each
Thomas Whole Wheat English muffins B1G1F, 2 bags @ $3.69
Baguettes from the bakery, 3 @ $1.00 each

TOTAL @ Publix: $55.76 with tax


5 lb whole wheat flour $2.72
instant milk $6.23
2 lb lentils @ .98 each
2 lb pinto beans @ $1.08 each
kidney beans $1.16
great Northern beans $1.08 (all beans dried)
canned diced tomatoes, 2 cans @ .63 each

TOTAL @ Walmart: $17.07 with tax


Keebler Entertaining cracker collection, 2 boxes bought on clearance for $1 each
Dawn dish soap $1.99
automatic dishwasher detergent $2.49
light butter $1.95
Weight Watchers light Mexican blend cheese $1.89
Weight Watchers light 4 cheese blend, 2 bags @ $1.89 each
3 gallons 1% milk @ $2.63 per gallon
2 dozen large eggs @ $1.39 per dozen
large bag frozen broccoli cuts $1.69
frozen chopped collard greens .89
frozen orange juice concentrate .99
whole roaster chicken $5.48 (.89 per pound)
shampoo and conditioner, 1 each @ .79
95% lean ground beef, 1.25 lb $3.42
1 lb flank steak $5.08
3 lb yellow onions $1.59
4 lb sweet potatoes $2.51
golden potatoes, 3 lb @ $1.98
bosc pears, 3 lb, $2.50
1 lb carrots .59
3 lb red delicious apples $1.98
bananas, 5 lb $2.64

COMMISSARY TOTAL: $59.82 with surcharge


My budget for the month was $200. So I'm very happy to be so far under budget. It leaves some much-needed breathing room this month.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Here in Georgia, we've had a major cold snap this week. We had an ice storm (snowstorm for much of northern Georgia) that cancelled school for two days and threatened to take out the electricity (it did manage to take out the cable and Internet).

Weather like that calls for belly-warming food. Belly-warming food on a diet can be tricky.

Enter turkey chili. Warm, filling, hearty, nutritious, low in fat, it's the perfect Crock Pot meal for winter days.

If you think turkey tastes bad (I used to, until I started using only turkey breast), substitute lean beef or ground chicken. Either way, it's delicious.

And cheap.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
makes a lot. ;) (enough to feed three adults and two children twice, plus leftovers)

What You Need:
  • 1 lb small red beans (or pinto, or kidney, or whatever you feel like using), dried, sorted through and rinsed (or four cans of beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 2 cans of chili-ready diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (4 oz)
  • 8 oz water
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • cayenne pepper to taste (up to a teaspoon for hot chili)
  • 2 tsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee (optional, but adds another dimension)
  • 1/3 cup masa mixed with 1/2 cup cool water
How it's Done:
  1. If you're using dried beans, cook them. If you're using canned beans, rinse and drain them. I use cooked beans almost always. They're a fraction of the cost of canned, and I've got some financial goals to accomplish this year, so it's dried beans for this household. I digress....
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the turkey with the onion and peppers.
  3. In the crock of your slow cooker, combine all of the ingredients except for the masa mixed with cool water. That comes later.
  4. Cover and cook on low for ten hours. Then, give it a stir, and decide if you want to thicken it up a bit. If so, stir in the masa flour combined with cool water. Cook and stir for a few minutes in the crock.
  5. Serve with sour cream and/or cheese, over spaghetti, or with crackers, or however you like your chili. Freeze the leftovers. :)

Menu Plan for the week

I hope the week has been treating you all well so far. Wednesday is my new menu plan day. It works out better for me because the sales ads come out on Wednesday so it allows me to plan my meals based on sale items. Here's the plan for this week. Later today, I'll be sharing a slow cooker chili recipe, just in time for all this cold weather across the United States.

Wednesday: Asparagus, Bacon, and Cheddar Fritatta and fresh fruit

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chicken Burritos

Friday: Eating with friends -- Chicken & Noodles and dessert

Saturday: Steak Hash & scrambled eggs

Sunday: Baked ham, cornbread dressing, broccoli, and dinner rolls

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Panko-Parmesan Drumsticks, Sweet Potato Fries, and cooked cabbage

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I've come to the end of a year of home cooking. Originally, I had intended to post here daily. However, it quickly became obvious that life had to come first. I hope you've enjoyed my recipes all year.

I'm not shutting down the blog.

I'll always be cooking. Mostly from scratch.

Stay tuned for new recipes in 2011. For now, the domain will remain unchanged.

I wish you all peace and happiness this year! See you tomorrow with a brand new post!

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