Thursday, March 8, 2018

Crab Cakes

I love crab cakes. And I like them the way God intended with very little filling, no added vegetables and just a little flavoring to enhance the crab. No need for peppers, onions, tarragon, celery etc. Let the crab shine through.

Get the very best crab you can find -- since we live in Central VA we are partial to Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs -- and mix it up carefully to create restaurant quality deliciousness in your own kitchen. I made these the other night and I swear my husband -- who eats pretty good most days -- said it was one of the best things I ever made.

Crab Cakes, Green Beans Almondine, Fresh Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
and a piece of garlic toast. Perfection! 

Crab Cakes
serves 2

1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over carefully to remove shell
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. butter
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
pinch Kosher salt

Mix all ingredients carefully together in a bowl -- leaving aside 2 tsp. of the butter for frying the crab cakes. Stir gently so as not to break up the crab meat too much. Shape them into cakes. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When the pan gets hot, add the remaining 2 tsp. of butter and the crab cakes. Cook them for 5 minutes without moving them so they develop a crispy crust and then carefully turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes.

Crab Cakes
Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook for another 2 minutes to ensure the egg is cooked all the way through. Serve with your choice of fresh lemon juice, cocktail sauce or a little more butter. These crab cakes come in at 6 points each if you are a Weight Watcher like me. You can reduce the points by lowering the amount of butter used, but it truly gives them a rich buttery flavor that is hard to duplicate.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Adventures with The Two Ingredient Dough

Unless you've been living under a rock, or you are a social media hater, you've heard of the two ingredient dough. The lure of the dough is lower calories and no fat as well as it's versatility. I've seen folks make everything from bagels to rolls to pizza dough to doughnuts. Because I am addicted to pizza, that's what I started with.

Pizza made at home with the 2 Ingredient Dough
I made this on a recent Friday night and both the hubby and I agreed that it tasted great. Working with this dough takes a little getting used to. It was very stiff and pretty sticky on my first go round making it. This is kind of a long blog post, but I know that lots of people are intimidated when working with dough, so I want to be as helpful as I can. I hope this helps you!

2 Ingredient Dough

1 3/4 cup Self Rising Flour
1 Cup Plain Non Fat Greek Yogurt

Now what you do with it is up to you. Here is my experience with the dough. I learned a little and it got easier to work with as I did. I hope this helps you have a better first experience with it than I did. 

Because all I had on hand was a generic Greek yogurt, I drained mine in a sieve lined with a coffee filter to remove the excess liquid. If you have a high quality name brand you may be able to skip this step. I mixed the dough in a bowl, using a little more than 1 2/3 cups of the flour and saving the rest to work into the dough while kneading it. As I said it's a little stiff and a little sticky. Here's how mine looked during prep.

The crumbly, pre-kneaded dough. 
 After mixing the dough in a bowl, I turned it out onto a well floured mat, using the remaining flour in the measuring cup. I kneaded it about 20 times, until it pulled together in a cohesive lump of dough and most of the rest of the flour was incorporated. I think now that I kneaded it a bit too much. 
After kneading, very stiff. Let it rest before trying to stretch it. 
Be sure to spray the pan of your choice very well with a non-stick cooking spray or wipe well with olive oil. After resting a few minutes, I was able to spread the dough to about 10 inches round. I added my own pizza sauce.

My Pizza Sauce
makes 2 pizzas

1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
2 tsp. finely minced onions
1 cup canned tomato sauce
a pinch of Kosher Salt
a pinch of dried red pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano

In a small sauce pan, soften the garlic and onion over low to medium heat. Add the tomato sauce, turn up the heat and bring it to a bubble then add all the remaining ingredients. Lower the heat and let cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Pizza prepped with sauce, don't over do the sauce. Ready for the toppings. Since I don't use a ton of cheese, I always add that first and put the other topping on top of the cheese. 

Next add one cup of your choice of cheese. I used part skim mozzarella. Top with your favorite toppings. Mine has banana peppers, roasted red peppers, turkey pepperoni, onion, mushrooms and black olives. Bake at 400 for about 20 -25 minutes. You may need to turn down the heat to 375 and let it bake a few more minutes until the dough is done in the center. You don't want to burn the crust. Lastly I added 1 T. of shredded Parmesan cheese. 

Next Up, Bagels! 

Hot out of the oven, Onion Bagels made with the 2 Ingredient Dough

After my experience with the stiff dough while making the pizza, I decided to begin with 1 1/2 cup self rising flour and 1 cup of plain non fat Greek Yogurt. I used the rest of the flour to dust the surface I used to shape the bagels. This time the dough was MUCH easier to work with, so from here on out, that is absolutely the way I will be making it. I added 2 tsp. granulated dried onion to the dough since I was making onion bagels. I shaped the dough into a round, divided it in half and then divided each half into 3 pieces. I rolled each piece into a 3 -4" rope and then shaped the rope into a circle. This is what I ended up with:

Bagels ready for the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you are topping your bagels brush them with an egg wash -- 1 egg whisked with 1  T. of water -- using a small pastry brush. I topped mine with a mixture I made from toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds and the same dried onions I put into the dough, along with a pinch of kosher salt and garlic powder. Bake them for 30 -35 minutes and then run them under the broiler, if desired, for a browner and crustier top. 

Ready for the oven! 
Aren't they cute? And they smelled so good while baking, like a fancy bakery you'd walk by in a big city. 

Fresh from the oven,
Onion Bagels! 

Here they are -all done and ready to eat. I like mine split and toasted with a little light cream cheese and glass of V8. 

Breakfast is served! 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

White Bean Chicken Chili - Freestyle!

It's easy to make, it's delicious and it's ZERO points. Dump everything but the beans into a slow cooker and do what you need to do. 4 or 5 hours later, remove the chicken and shred it, and return to the pot along with the beans and one hour later dinner is ready... and lunch the next day and the next and the next....and that makes for easy meal planning.

To serve I like to add 2 crushed tortilla chips on top, a Tablespoon of low fat shredded cheddar, 2 black olives, a wedge of lime, a little cilantro and a big dollop of plain non-fat Greek yogurt. That makes my big bowl of chili 2 Freestyle Weight Watchers points. You do it the way you like it! Avocado would be good, if  you've got the points or some pickled jalapenos if you want it spicier.

Feel free to add a can of your favorite corn to the slow cooker if you like -- we just don't care for corn in chili.

And believe me when I say, it's hard to take a good picture of this chili, it's just not that pretty! This is the best I could do:
Zero Point White Bean Chicken Chili -
All Gussied Up for the photo op! 
Remember that zero points doesn't mean zero calories, but this is a pretty  healthy chili! Just don't over do it -- as in all things, moderation is the key. I'd say a portion is a cup to a cup and a half.

White Bean Chicken Chili
Serves 8

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds, give or take)
1+ box Low Sodium Chicken Broth (I used Imagine Organic Free Range)
4 cans Progresso White Kidney Cannellini beans 
2 cans Old El Paso Chopped Mild Green Chilies
1 large jalapeno pepper, diced (leave in the seeds for more spice, I did0
1 T. minced garlic
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 T. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 T. dried oregano
1 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 T. white vinegar

Drain 3 cans of the beans and rinse them. Place the 4th can in the blender with it's liquid and puree until smooth.

Put all ingredients except beans into your slow cooker. Cook on high 4 to 6 hours until the chicken is starting to fall apart. Remove the chicken and shred it and put it back into the pot with the beans along with any accumulated drippings from it. You may need to add a little more chicken broth if it's too thick for your preference. Taste the chili for seasoning at this point. You can add more  spice or salt to your liking.

Cook another hour or 2. Serve with your choice of toppings, just be sure to count the points if you are a Weight Watcher, like me!
Bare Naked White Bean Chicken Chili = 0 Points

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Freestyle Turkey Chili

Here's how to do some delicious FREESTYLE turkey chili. Whether you are watching your weight or not, this is one delicious chili. We like things a little spicy, so I used a variety of hotter style chili powders, but if you don't care for spicy, use mild chili powder and omit the chipotle in adobo from the recipe. (Chipotle en Adobo is a canned food product of dried and smoked jalapeno chilies in a smoky, tomato sauce. Great pantry staple.)

So here it is ONE POINT Freestyle Turkey Chili!

Freestyle Turkey Chili
serves 8
Extra Lean! 

1 lb. Jenni O Extra Lean Ground Turkey
1 link Al Fresco Chicken Sausage with Jalpenos and Red Peppers
1 tsp. olive oil
1 can original Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
3 cans Diced Tomatoes (15 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz.)
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 T. minced garlic
1 T. Chilpotle en Adobo from a can**(chopped up)
3 T. chili powder, divided use
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 T. apple cider vinegar
3 spicy chili powders I like
1 small can chopped green chilies (mild)
Cooking spray, such as PAM
3 cans kidney beans --I used 2 dark red and 1 light red                
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Heat a deep non-stick pot over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Slice the chicken sausage thinly and cut each circle in half. Cook the sausage until lightly brown on the edges. Remove and set aside. Add 1 tsp. olive oil to the pot and brown the turkey, breaking it up as you do.
Add the onions and green pepper to the skillet along with one T. of the chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin. Cook about 5 minutes until veggies begin to soften then add the garlic.
Chili Prep
Cook a few more minutes until you start to smell the garlic and then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, canned chilies, vinegar, chipotle en adobo and the rest of the spices. Season with 2 tsp. Kosher salt and 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn it down low, cover and let simmer for 30 - 45 minutes.

While the chili is cooking, drain the beans and rinse them. Shake out all the water in a colander. After about 40 minutes, add the beans, chicken sausage and the tomato paste into the chili. Bring the chili to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Let the chili cook 30 - 45 minutes to allow all the flavors to come together and to cook the beans.

I like to serve it with a few crushed tortilla chips, 1 T. low fat Mexican Blend Cheese and a dollop of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. If you do also, be sure to count the extra points       

This chili freezes well and will keep several days in the refrigerator. It also makes a GREAT Taco salad --Put  a ladle full over a plate of mixed greens and top with a few crushed chips, a little plain Greek yogurt and some additional salsa and a few black olives, YUMMY! I have already had that for lunch and I highly recommend it!
Taco Salad for lunch? YES PLEASE!! 

**You can freeze the leftover Chipotle en Adobo from the can. It will keep a long time if you seal it up well in a freezer bag.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Healthy Lasagna Roll Ups

Healthy Lasagna Roll Ups, only 7 WW Smart Points per roll! 

The name says it all: HEALTHY Lasagna Roll Ups. Like the enchilada bake I blogged about recently (see HERE ) I had to figure out a way to eat lasagna and stay on track. My health and weight have been my number one priority for over a year now, and honestly, how many boneless, skinless chicken breasts can you eat, no matter how many different ways your prepare them?

These roll ups can be a little tricky to assemble, so I've included lots of photos to make it as easy as I can for you. They come in at only 7 Smart Points per roll, if you are a Weight Watcher like I am. Even if you are not, these things are TASTY! No need for the delicious full fat version (Here's mine) especially if it's not a special occasion, And while these are a little bit labor intensive, you could easily make them early in the day, or even the day before and bake them off right before dinner. I am sure you could even double wrap them -- first in plastic wrap and then in foil-- and freeze them for a week or two and they would be great.

I see more roll ups in my future, I am already envisioning a spinach and mushroom filled one with a creamy sauce on top -- maybe a little chicken sausage added in? I'd LOVE to hear your ideas, so leave me a comment, if you have one!

This would make a super dish for a crowd -- automatic portion control -- and I promise that your family will love it -- at least my boys would have when they were younger.

Try this, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Lasagna Roll Ups
Makes 8 rolls

8 dry lasagna noodles
1  1/2 cup + aprrox. 2 Tablespoons marinara sauce with meat **see cooks note
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Kraft Parmesan (yes, in the green can)
1/4 cup Parmigiana Reggiano cheese (splurge for a little of the good stuff)
1/4 cup original Egg Beaters
1/2 cup shredded part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided use
pinch of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the lasagna noodles until they are just done, using the cooking time at the lower end of what the package recommends. You want them to be al dente or to the tooth, with a little bite still remaining. Drain them and rinse briefly with cold water so they don't stick together and they are cool enough to handle.

While the noodles are cooking, in a medium mixing bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, Egg Beaters, Kraft Parmesan and the oregano and garlic powder.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray an 11" X 9" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. I had to add 2 Tablespoons of water to it -- my sauce is thick - so that the bottom of the dish is lightly coated with sauce.
Prepared Baking Dish

On a clean surface, lay out the noodles on a clean work surface. I used my cutting board, doing 3 noodles at a time. Place about 1 T. of the ricotta mixture at the top of the noodle, and using a spoon spread it down the length of the noodle, about 3/4 of the way --almost but not quite to the end--as shown:
Noodles spread with ricotta mixture

Place about 1 tablespoon of marinara on top of the cheese and spread it carefully about 2/3 of the way down the top of the cheese.
Marinara spread over the ricotta, about 2/3 of the way down.

On top of that, add 1 tsp.+ or - of the shredded mozzarella on the marinara. Keep it mostly toward the top half of the noodle, like this:
Mozzarella over the sauce. 

Roll the noodles up, starting with the heavy end, and place them seam side down in your prepared baking dish. Don't roll them too tightly, you don't want to lose the any of the filling by squeezing it out the sides!
All rolled up and almost ready for the oven! 

Drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the rolls and spread it gently with a spoon so the rolls are mostly covered. Sprinkle the top with half of the Parmigiana Reggiano. Add 1 T. of water to each of the long sides of the baking dish, not on top of the rolls. This will help keep the dish from drying out. Mix remaining Parm and Mozzarella together and set aside in the refrigerator to use at the end of the cooking process.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil (or a top if your baking dish has one). Bake the roll ups for 30 minutes until they are hot and bubbly. Remove dish from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining cheese mixture. Return to oven for 5-8 minutes until the cheese melts. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving so the dish can come together.


Lasagna Roll Ups -- Ready to EAT! YUM! 

 ** I used my own homemade Meat Sauce, made with 93% lean ground meat. I used the guideline in the WW app, and the 1 1/2 cups came out at 19 points total. You may have to add more points or be able to lessen the point total by using another sauce or omitting the meat. Just be sure to check your points. I added 2 Tablespoons of water to the sauce at the end when I drizzled the remaining sauce on top of the prepared roll ups because my sauce is very thick.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Chicken Enchilada Bake

I absolutely love enchiladas. Gooey, cheesy enchiladas are among my favorite foods. In fact I've been known to judge a restaurant by their enchiladas alone. Very few meet my standards, as I learned from one of the best. I had a friend in school who had just finished a 3 year posting in California. I'm an army brat and so most of my friends growing up were children of service men also (we tend to stick together). While in California, they had a beloved Mexican housekeeper who taught my friends mom to cook authentically.  The mom was a great cook anyway and took to Mexican food like a champ. And she was nice enough to teach me, even though I was only 13. A kind and patient woman, for sure!

I've evolved quite a bit as a cook and my weight had certainly begun to show it (sigh). Starting in January of 2016 I embarked on a healthy life plan which includes a Weight Watchers Membership as well as one to a local gym.  BUT... giving up enchiladas! YIKES! SO, I came up with this recipe. It's not authentic, but it is certainly tasty and satisfies my enchilada craving while keeping me on program!

I looked at lots of different enchilada type bakes and dishes on the internet but none were exactly what I was looking for. One came very close. Check out the recipe that inspired me HERE -- and thanks for the inspiration, Drizzle Me Skinny!

I promise, this is YUMMY! And don't discount the canned enchilada sauce -- I've made sauce from scratch several times -- and my family could not tell the difference.

This is easy enough to make on a week night, minimum prep time, and it uses lots of convenience items. It also reheats beautifully in the microwave. Hooray for leftovers!

Chicken Enchilada Bake

Makes 6 servings at 8 Weight Watchers Smart Points Each

10 corn tortillas, cut into 6 wedges each (I used La Banderita, but be sure to double check the points if you use a different brand)
1 1/2 cups cubed chicken breast meat (I used rotisserie)
1 can Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/3 cup diced green or red peppers
1 small can Old El Paso chopped green chilies
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (grape or cherry tomatoes are fine)
1 1/2 cups Kraft Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Shredded Mexican Blend (divided use)
6 crushed yellow corn tortilla chips

Shredded lettuce, non-fat plain Greek yogurt, salsa, avocados, black olives and pickled jalapenos for serving if desired. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 11" X 7" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In the bottom of the baking dish, add about 1/3 of the can of sauce to the bottom and spread it around as evenly as you can. Place 1/2 of the tortilla wedges in an even layer on top of the sauce. Mix the chicken, onions and peppers together along with a few tablespoons of the enchilada sauce. Spread the chicken mixture evenly over the tortillas and sprinkle with the chopped tomatoes, Top that layer with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Place the other half of the tortillas on top of the cheese and top with the remaining enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup of the cheese. 

Cover the casserole with foil (or a top if your casserole has one) and bake for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the foil from the hot dish and scatter the 6 crushed tortilla chips on top along with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is melted. Let sit 5 minutes before cutting. 

Cut into 6 even pieces and top your piece as you like. I put lettuce, salsa, another crushed tortilla chip and 2 black olives on mine, along with 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt. Use whatever you like but make sure to track any additional points. 

Chicken Enchilada Bake, hot from the oven, with 2 pieces removed so you can see the inside.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Gingery Lemon Drop Martini

My life has been hectic lately, but in a good way. While I continue my quest to attain and maintain a healthy weight, lots of good things have been happening. I now have one beautiful new daughter-in-law and another one soon to come! After years of me and the boys, it's nice to have girls around.

In honor of the recently engaged couple, I created this drink to celebrate! I have blogged a lemon drop before, but the ginger gives this one a huge boost in flavor. (See my original HERE ) This drink was inspired by one I had at The Daily in Carytown, a place I highly recommend and love to visit. Don't miss the crab stack if it's on the menu when you go!

I hope you like it as much as the girls and I do! But be forewarned, while this  tastes like the most delicious adult lemonade ever, they are almost pure alcohol.

Gingery Lemon Drop Martinis
Makes 2
(chill your martini glass -- makes a nice difference!)

2 oz. good vodka (I used Smirnoff)
2 oz. Stoli Citron vodka
2 oz Lemoncello
1 oz. ginger simple syrup (I used the ginger Keep It Simple Syrup brand)
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Crushed ginger candy and sugar mixed together to rim the glass. 2 pieces of ginger candy to put in the bottom, if desired. 

Rub the edge of your glasses with a cut lemon and dredge in the candy sugar mixer. Drop in a larger piece of candy for an added ginger boost. 

In a cocktail shaker, mix all liquid ingredients together. Add lots of ice and shake, shake, shake. Strain carefully into your chilled martini glass.