Friday, September 30, 2011

Homestyle Okra

We had this as a side dish at dinner tonight and it was really really good. Almost creamy. Some people don't like okra because it has a "slimy" texture, but this really works with that and tastes so awesome. Serves 6.

1 bag frozen okra (or about 12 chopped)
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (any color) 
1 onion, chopped
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Put 1/2 cup water in a pot and throw your okra in, cooking on medium for about 10 minutes till tender. Drain.

Spray another pot with nonstick spray, and saute onions and bell pepper, till onions are translucent and pepper is tender. Add your okra and saute together for a minute, and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, and let simmer for another 10 minutes covered till all flavors are blended and everything is tender.

Serve! Only 1 point per serving! I swear you'll have more than 1 serving, it's that good!

Pile some on your plate!

Served here with  Spicy Salmon Cakes and Yellow Rice

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Southern Style Fried Cabbage

I love love love this! So tender and sweet with a hint of heat. And just because it's southern doesn't mean it has to be high fat! Serves 6.

1 head cabbage, chopped
4 turkey bacon slices, chopped
1 onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Spray a pot with nonstick spray. Toss in your turkey bacon and fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add your onion and garlic. Saute till onion is semi-translucent and garlic is a little bit brown. Now add your cabbage and mix. Throw in the seasoned salt and red pepper flakes and mix everything up together real well, coating all the cabbage. Simmer on medium for about 25-30 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. When everything is all tender, uncover and put heat on high to burn off half of the liquid. Give it another good stir, and it is ready to serve!

It makes such an great side dish and perfectly complements your meal. And only 1 point a serving too! Can you say awesome??

Here, served with some Louisiana Oven Fried Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Throw Together Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing

This is so yummy and so easy, it's great when you don't have time for anything else (and mommies usually don't). And it's easy on the budget! Serves 6.

3-4 chicken breasts, cubed
1 box stuffing (your choice flavor)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken or celery!)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp black pepper

Pour the stuffing into the crockpot. Follow with the soup and broth, and mix well. Put the chicken in last and dust with the black pepper. Give it a good mix and set on low for 6-8 hours, on high for 3-4 hours.

AND DONE! So easy and so good. Just like we like it. Kids will love this! And only 7 points a serving too!

I added a little Frank's Hot Sauce to enhance flavor. My husband likes to add Miracle Whip!


This is a classic Creole dish. You can really do anything with it. There are many variations of Jambalaya. Here is mine. You can tweak this recipe to make it yours too! You can cook it on the stovetop or the slow cooker for when you want a great home-cooked meal to come home to. This makes a lot - Serves 8.

2 cups rice (your choice - brown, white or wild)
1 can tomato paste + 1 can water (or 1 can tomato sauce)
1 can diced tomatoes (or about 5-6 fresh, chopped)
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 sausages, sliced, your choice
1.5 cups small deveined shrimp
1 bell pepper (your choice of color)
2 bay leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more!)
1/8 tsp garlic salt


Spray pan with nonstick spray (or use 1 tbsp oil) and saute onion and garlic together for a couple minutes. Add chicken, sausage and shrimp, followed by the bay leaf, red pepper flakes and garlic salt. Saute till chicken is no longer pink. Add rice, tomato paste and water, and the tomatoes. Stir, bring to a boil and set on medium. Simmer for about 30 minutes, adding water as needed if rice is still hard. Serve!

Slow Cooker:

Add all ingredients into the crockpot, stir and set on low for 6 hours, on high for 3 hours.

All set! 9 points a serving! It tastes as good as it looks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Simple Baked Foil Salmon Fillet

Salmon is my favorite fish. It tastes, good, easy to prepare and healthy. I like wrapping the fish in foil because it keeps it moist and cooks it evenly, and makes the fish really soak up your spices. Plus cleanup is a breeze! Serves 6.

2 pounds salmon fillets 
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper (or garlic pepper)
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix the lemon juice, black pepper, dill and garlic in a small bowl.

Lay your salmon fillets on some foil cut big enough to wrap them in, individually. Spoon your lemon mixture on top of the salmon, fold up and seal. Put on a cookie sheet or ovenproof dish. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or so.

Fresh from the oven!

Really simple recipe, with just a few ingredients, but that's the beauty of it. 3 points a serving - even better!

I like to serve this with couscous or wild rice and a side of steamed veggies.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Our Family's Favorite Pasta Casserole

This is my husband's all-time favorite pasta dish. It is Amish-inspired and really tasty. He thinks ANY husband would agree this is wonderful! May well become your family's favorite too. Give it a whirl. Serves 8.

2 jars pizza sauce (or 2 8-ounce jars tomato sauce)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp parsley
1 onion, chopped
4 oz (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 16-oz pack of penne or rigatoni pasta

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Spray a pan with nonstick spray or use 1 tbsp oil. Brown your meat along with the garlic. Add then the Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic salt. Mix well. Add in the pizza sauce, cream cheese, sour cream and parsley. I use fat-free cream cheese and sour cream, but you can use what kind you like! Mix thoroughly, and simmer for about 15 minutes to make sure everything has blended together. Toss in your onions, mix, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Prepare your pasta, drain and put in an ovenproof casserole dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Pour meat sauce on top. Stick in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Fresh from the oven! Props to my husband for blowing the steam away so I can take a pic!

8 points a serving. I guarantee everyone will ask for seconds. NO DOUBT!

My husband likes to add a couple more dollops of sour cream. He says it's a guy thing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Spaghetti Meat Sauce - Stovetop or Crock Pot

Every family out there has a way to make Spaghetti sauce. This is one I have been making for years and years, and it always turns out awesome. My family loves the sweet-slightly spicy herbiness and it cooks in no time. Serves 6.

1 pound ground beef (can substitute Italian sausage)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce (or 2 can tomato paste + 2 cans water)
1 can diced tomatoes (or about 6 fresh, chopped)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more, if you are so inclined!)
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda!)
1 4-oz can mushrooms (more if you want it!)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 16-oz box of spaghetti noodles (or any pasta you prefer, actually)

This is the Stovetop version.

Get a pan and spray with nonstick spray (or use 1 tbsp oil). Saute your onions and garlic for a minute or two till onions are a bit translucent and garlic is a little toasted.

Add your ground beef (or Italian sausage) and brown. Toss the black pepper, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, marjoram and sugar. Mix it really well and simmer for a couple minutes for sugar to carmelize. Add the tomatoes, mushroom, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes. You can prepare your pasta while the sauce simmers.

To do this using a crock pot, saute the onions and garlic, brown the meat, and then just throw everything in the crock pot. Give it a good stir and cook on low for about 6 hours, on high for 3. Easy peasy!

About 5 points per serving (if you used 93/7 lean ground beef). Easy, yummy and filling, my picky eaters gobble this up! Yours will too!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Chicken Curry - 2 Ways!

Chicken Curry is definitely one my favorite dishes. I love how it smells, I love how it tastes, I love how easy it actually is to prepare. The apple lends a mild, sweet flavor to the dish. It is filling too. May seem like a long list of ingredients, but they are common things a well-stocked pantry has. This is my signature recipe. A Win all around. Serves 6.

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces (or any chicken part you like)
2 apples, cored and diced
1 can coconut milk
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1 tbsp crushed ginger (or powdered ginger)
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup sugar (more if you wish)
1 can diced tomatoes (or 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced (any color you prefer)
Nonstick Spray (or 1 tbsp vegetable oil)

Spray your pan with the nonstick spray, or add the oil. Heat and add the garlic, onions and ginger. Saute for about a minute or so, and add the chicken. Saute till chicken turns white. Add your apples, black pepper, red pepper flakes, sugar, bell pepper, tomatoes and coconut milk. Give it a good stir and let it simmer for about 25 minutes on medium. Serve with the rice of your choice. Even a veggie on the side.

Now the second way to cook this is with a slow cooker. And it's maddeningly simple - just toss everything in the pot, and set on low for about 6-8 hours, high for 3-4 hours.

Tip: It would be good to add 3 tbsp flour or cornstarch dissolved in a half cup of water to food like this when you cook using a crock pot. The slow cooking process usually tends to keep a lot of moisture in, causing food to be on the watery side, and you would want to thicken that up. So add the dissolved flour, stir, and cover for 5-10 minutes before serving.

It's awesome to come home to this after work, instead of fast food!

YUM! And only 6 points a serving. Isn't that awesome?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Balsamic Crab Pasta

This is one of my favorites. Coincidentally, this is one of the easiest things I make too. You can whip this up in 15 minutes flat. And it is so tasty and awesome that your family won't believe it only took you 15 minutes. But don't tell them that. Serves 6.

1 pound crab meat. chopped (imitation crab is what I use, but the real thing would rock)
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil (pure, light or extra virgin, your choice!)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (a little more if you wish)
1 pound package of pasta, your choice (I use penne, rigatoni or rotini)
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

First off, get a pot with water, add in a little bit of salt and oil, and bring to a boil. Throw in your pasta.

While that cooks, mix your oil and 1 tbsp vinegar and heat that in a separate pot. Add your garlic and saute till a little bit brown. Add in your chopped crab meat, Italian seasoning and pepper.

Tip: balsamic vinegar has a strong flavor and a little goes a long way. But if would like more of it in your food, by all means! You will know once you get a whiff of balsamic vinegar. Trust your judgment.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pot with the crab. Add the other 1 tbsp of vinegar. Mix everything together thoroughly and serve. Top with a little parmesan cheese if you like.

DONE! Chow down. 9 points a serving.

Apple Pie

This is real easy. Well, except for the peeling and slicing of the apples, that is. It's real good. You'd wanna make this over and over again. I promise. Serves 8.

6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1 tsp cinnamon (or nutmeg or allspice, whatever you have)
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil (for brushing)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Just mix everything up together and spoon into your pie shell.

You can cover the top with another shell and just crimp the sides down. Or you can do a lattice-type top like I did.

First off, cut your rolled out dough into strips. You can use a pizza cutter or just a butter knife. Got to do it carefully. Then lay them over your pie.

And weave the remaining strips to form a lattice pattern.

Tuck the edges in and you can press a fork along the sides to make a design too.

 Brush top of pie with some oil to keep it moist and pliable. Bake your pie for about 45 minutes,  brushing the top with oil if it's looking dry, till crust is golden. Let cool for a few hours before serving.

9 points a slice. Try it.

You know you want to.

How to make a pie shell, and make it good!

People are usually intimidated by the idea of making their own dough or pie shells, and they would just buy pre-made, frozen ones at the grocery store. That is totally fine. But it really isn't hard to do at all! Wanna bet? Makes 1 pie shell. Double up if you need more.

1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp cold water

You can add certain extracts or flavorings, like lemon peel or vanilla extract, if you want it extra special.

Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add your shortening and mix it up with the flour till they kind of resemble breadcrumbs. Like so.

Once it gets all crumby, add in the rest of your ingredients. Mix it up well and form a ball. Now it is time to roll your dough. Toss some flour on the surface you are going to roll your dough. This is done so your dough won't stick.

Now start rolling your dough. You can start out slow and flatten the dough out evenly.

It's looking good, so let's put it in your pie pan. You'd want to use a 9-inch pie pan, and grease it with oil or spray it with nonstick spray. A dash of flour would be good too, spreading it in the pan. Now lay your dough in the pan.

"Mold" it onto the corners of the pan carefully and tuck the edges in neatly.

For an extra nice touch you can press a fork all along the sides of the crust to make little decorative indentations.

Finished pie shell.

 You're ready to make your pie! That wasn't so hard, was it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The F Word

Formula, that is. The way some people talk about it though, you'd think it was the other F word.

I'm a breastfeeding mama. NOW, I am. I think it's natural, healthy, beautiful and just wonderful. But I think formula is cool too.

My first child was not breastfed. We really wanted to but Oh. My. God. No. It was not happening. I got help from the hospital nurse and then a lactation consultant. Peanut would not latch. She was losing weight. She started crying and crying and crying. I was going out of my mind, first with frustration, then with guilt.

And as other mommies (and daddies) know, parental guilt is soul crushing. Especially for a first time mom. I felt like I totally failed my baby. I haven't really even started yet and I've already failed. After listening to my baby cry her little heart out, obviously starving, I broke out the bottle. And eat, she did.

I still feel the judgment over that.

I was afraid of going out with a bottle in case someone saw me giving it to her. But you know what? I got over that quick - I HAD to. Getting milk from a milk bank was unrealistic for me and I didn't want to get donated milk from random people. So formula it was. My baby was being fed, and was growing, thriving and healthy. She did everything on time and is a bright 3 year old now. And I am so proud of her. No more guilt here!

With my next baby, Pecan, though, I got to successfully nurse, thanks to the help of my wonderful midwife, Ann. She did latch on perfectly from the get go, and she is still nursing. She just turned 2. It's not like she is latched on to me a billion times a day, maybe once or twice. There is no harm in that. I think she still likes nursing mainly because she sees her baby sister Acorn doing it and she wants to feel reassured that she still gets her share. I think she is slowly weaning though. There are some days she doesn't nurse. And that is fine with me. She is growing up. And is very independent and loving!

I had a little reservation in me about nursing Acorn. I have heard that babies born by C-Section have some problems nursing. The hospital staff was wonderful though. She was having her first feed within an hour of her birth, she latched like a dream, and she is still going strong. I am glad to have the opportunity to nurse her. She has gotten very efficient at it and is a totally laid-back, cheerful, happy baby. Oh, she is pure joy! Always smiling and giggling.

When I see another mom pull out a bottle to feed her baby, all I could think of is "Good job!". Why? Because I am glad that she obviously loves her baby enough to feed him or her. Formula feeding moms aren't lazy. They are doing what is best for their baby and their circumstances. I'd rather a baby be fed formula than starve. Hunger is pain to a baby. So please, formula feeding mamas, know that you are doing something good.

Let's not judge so much, ok? People don't have to feel like they need to explain why they pulled out a bottle. There are other more terrible things in the world than a child being fed.

Baby Acorn having her lunch
Tandem feeding

Apple Cake

Hoo boy. This stuff is really awesome. I make this just about weekly because it is light and fresh-tasting, and my family loves it. It never lasts more than a day in this household. Serves about 12.

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cooking oil (any will do!)
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced (4 if they are small)
1 tbsp powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Take your flour and sift it, along with the salt and baking soda. Set that aside. 

Now mix your eggs, white and brown sugar and oil in a big mixing bowl. Add in your cinnamon and vanilla. Then add your sifted flour in. Don't just dump it in though, do it in thirds, mixing in between. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl to get all the bits incorporated. Just something to know: this batter is stiff! So if you are mixing this by hand, you are gonna have a hard time. 

Get that all mixed together and fold in your apples. If it's kind of a brownish color, it's ok. It's from sitting around unpeeled for a little while. So just fold it into the batter and pour into a greased pan. I personally prefer to use a bundt pan for this cake, but a loaf pan or square pan will work too. Just a matter of preference.

Bake for about 45 minutes, then do the fork test, which is sticking a fork into the cake and if it comes out clean, your cake is done. Leave it in for 10 more minutes if it isn't done and test again.

Once done, loosen the sides with a butter knife and invert onto a cooling rack, like so.

It will take a few hours to cool completely. I like to top mine with some powdered sugar a.k.a. confectioner's sugar.

8 points a slice. So good and so yummy, I swear you'll just sit there and not stop till the cake is gone. Just can't stop eating it.

Peanut eating apple cake at a family picnic

Beef Stew - 2 Ways!

I love beef stew. It is getting into the cooler months again and beef stew really hits the spot. And it is easy to make too. You can make it on the stove, or you can make it in the slow cooker. I will show you both. Serves about 6.

1 1/2 pounds lean beef stew meat
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 big potatoes (6 if using smaller ones), diced
1 8-oz can tomato sauce (or 1 can tomato paste plus can water)
half a canful of water (or more if you wish)
1/2 cup of white or red wine
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf  (optional)
3 tbsp flour or cornstarch dissolved well in a half cup of water

You get your pot, and you spray it with nonstick spray (or just use about 2 tbsp oil). Heat it up and proceed to throw your onions and garlic in, sauteing it for a minute or so, till onions are translucent and garlic browns a little. Add your beef and brown that along with the onion and garlic. Add in your worcestershire sauce, parsley, black pepper, paprika and bay leaf. Coat everything well with the spices. Toss in the celery and potatoes, giving it a good stir. You can use any kind of potato, your choice, peeled or unpeeled. You can use as much as you want to. Dump in your tomato sauce, wine and half canful of water. You can add more water if you think it is too rich for your taste.

Now bring to a boil, cover, and set heat on medium. Let it just simmer for about 30 minutes, giving it an occasional stir. Now if potatoes aren't quite done yet and not completely soft, leave it in for a few more minutes till they are.

Once it is done, mix in your dissolved flour or cornstarch. Make sure there are no lumps! Mix it in well, turn off the heat, and let it sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. Take out the bay leaf before serving.

Now if you are using the slow cooker, there are three steps, really.

Step 1: Brown the meat. Add garlic and half of the spices.
Step 2: Put meat and everything except dissolved flour in slow cooker. Set on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Go do something else (for me that something else would be chasing kids!).
Step 3: 10 minutes before serving, add the dissolved flour, stir well and cover till ready to serve.

Tip: Put the hardest stuff, in this case the potatoes and carrots, on the bottom. It's so they cook better. Also, don't take the lid off your crock pot unless you really have to. Every time you do, it takes 20 minutes for the temperature to come back up to continue cooking your food. (wink).

SIMPLE! And yummy! About 8 points a serving.

You can serve with noodles or rice, but it is really good as is.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Being a Mommy

I love being a Mom. I didn't think I'd ever be one, but here I am. But I will have to admit the enormity of being responsible for another life didn't hit me totally till I had my first baby. I remember creeping over to the side of her hospital bassinet and looking down at her. Who is this little person? An amazing experience.

We had our 3rd baby in April of this year and everything just comes like second nature to me now. Well, 3 kids in 4 years will do that to you. I have been asked many times if we still plan on having more children, or if 3 is enough. Well, no we are not done yet. We would like at least a couple more. Maybe 3 more. Who knows. And no, we are not quiverfull. So just had to get that out of the way.

What I have noticed is that there is a LOT of competetive mothering (parenting in general). Stuff I didn't even think was an issue, suddenly WAS. Like breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding, co-sleeping vs. Cry It Out, and so on and so forth. You know, we are all just moms and dads, we are mostly just trying to get on with life and doing our best. We don't need to put others down just because we think the way they are raising their kids is not good enough for your standards.

I will be the first to admit I had a touch of that judgmental attitude when I first became a parent. I wasn't quite holier-than-thou, but I did have a cup of the Kool Aid. Now that I have 3 kids? I realized that their birth and first experiences are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their lives. It will not break them. Children are more resilient than that. As long as you love your kids, listen to their needs, feed them, keep them safe and do what is best for your particular circumstances, it is all good.

You couldn't be too fussy about things concerning your baby. I have seen parents fuss so much about what their baby eats, getting on a strict schedule, or being too die hard a follower of certain "parenting gurus", that they are just getting so exhausted and frustrated that they do not enjoy their babies and their being parents. What a waste of time! Believe me, those babies don't stay babies for very long. Before you know it they will be running away from you because they want to do other things.

So enjoy your kids. Cuddle them. If it is late at night and they woke up YET AGAIN, realize that it's not going to last forever. Look at their little faces and toes, touch them because, you know what? They will never ever be that little again. So treasure those moments.

Brings a tear to my eye thinking about that.

Red Velvet Cake

This is a gorgeous cake. Classic. Almost too beautiful to eat. But why would someone use red food coloring in a cake? Well, in the old days, they kind of chocolate they used turned a reddish color when baked, but I guess they don't make that kind of chocolate anymore and so they improvised with the food coloring. It's not totally a chocolate cake either anymore. But it's so good good good! Certainly good to look at. Serves 8.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or cake flour for a finer texture)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
1 oz red food coloring
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp white vinegar

For the frosting:

8 oz softened cream cheese (add a half block if you need it)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift your flour and salt together, and set aside. I just use a regular strainer and dump the flour through it into a bowl, shaking it through, then I shake the salt through that too, and use a wire whisk to give it a quick mix. This is to introduce air into your flour and to make a finer cake, plus gets rid of clumps for easier blending.

Cream your shortening (that's just mashing/beating it enough to make it a creamy consistency), and add your eggs. Mix thoroughly. Add then the cocoa, food coloring, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well.

Now add in the sifted flour and salt gradually, till everything is in there and mix on medium for about a minute or so, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula to blend it all in.

You take your vinegar, put it in a small bowl and add your baking soda. It's gonna fizz and pop a bit, just so you know. Pour that into your batter and mix for another minute. The consistency will change, becoming more light and airy.

Pour your batter into 3 8-inch round cake pans, sprayed with nonstick spray or greased with shortening, so the cake won't stick to the pan. A dusting of flour over the shortening is gonna be helpful too. Bake that for about 30 minutes, then stick a fork into it. If it doesn't come out clean, it's not done. Check in 10 minute increments thereafter until that fork comes out clean. When done, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edges of the pan and invert onto a cooling rack. Let cool for about 3 hours.

For the frosting, mix the cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and coconut flakes till smooth. The smoother, the easier it is to spread.

To assemble, get one cake layer, put it on a plate, spread on an even layer of frosting, then add another cake layer, do it a second time and add the 3rd cake layer. Then cover the entire cake with frosting, over and around. It is a little tricky at first, but will get easier once you get the hang of it. You can even use a regular butter knife to frost your cake. Paper towels are handy.

This is the result.

When sliced this is it.

Here, have some.

About 16 points a slice. Respectable. So worth it though!

Provincial Chicken Over Pasta

This is fancier, got a longer ingredients list, but I would think most home cooks would have these ingredients in their pantry. And if not, don't. Time for something new then! This tastes great so it's worth the trip to the grocery store. Serves 4.

3 chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 zucchini, sliced
1 can cream of chicken (or mushroom!) soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp parsley
1 tsp basil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp olive oil (or just use nonstick spray)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 16 oz box of pasta, your choice

Ok. So heat your oil up in a pot (or just spray it with the nonstick stuff) and add in your chicken and onions, cooking till chicken turns opaque and onions are translucent. That's maybe 5 minutes. Add parsley, basil, balsamic vinegar, pepper and zucchini. Stir fry that around for a couple minutes, coating everything with the spices. Throw in the soup and tomatoes. You can use fresh tomatoes (around 5 chopped) but canned is fine too. And the soup can be just the regular kind, but I used to reduced fat sort.

Bring to a boil and simmer on medium, about 10 minutes. Then add in your sour cream and cheese. Again, the regular sort will do, I chose to use fat-free. Give it a good stir and simmer for another 10 minutes, covered.

When all is done, serve over prepared pasta of your choice. It is shown here over whole wheat rotini, but anything is good. Sprinkle some shredded cheese over it if you like. By itself, it is 5 points a cup. 10 with a cup of whole wheat pasta.

My kids ate this all up. Even Peanut, the picky one.

Slow-Cooked Chicken Burrito

Now this is so easy it's unbelievable. But it tastes like you spent a long time making it. We busy moms don't need more things to do. Believe me, I have 3 kids 3 years old and under. That's a lot of chasing around. Serves 4.

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 jar of your favorite salsa (more if you want)
1 1/2 cups corn

Yes, that is it! Just put those 3 ingredients in your slow cooker, turn it to low for 7 hours (or high for 4 hours) and walk away. When time comes to eat, just serve it with warm burrito tortillas (whole wheat, but your choice, you know better than I) and eat. Or you can even serve it with rice and a veggie on the side.

3 points a cup. Now THAT sounds good.

Shown here with grapes because I happened to be eating grapes when I shot the pic and threw a few in because I thought it looked fancy.

Norma Jeane's Collard Greens

This makes a really good side dish all around. Classic southern way to cook Collard Greens, but without the high fat! Serves 4.

1 bunch collard greens
4 slices extra lean smoked turkey bacon, chopped
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2/3 cup water

Put the water in the pot and add the turkey bacon, garlic and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat, simmer about 15 minutes or so. Add a little more water if it boils down too low.

Wash greens and tear the leaves off the white stem. Tear or chop into bite size pieces. Add these to the pot, stir to make sure all the greens are covered. Cover pot and let simmer for another 15 minutes, or till greens are tender and liquid is reduced.

I just love it. 1 point per cup. My husband eats it with ranch dressing, but that's just him.

Crab Cakes

Crab is pricey. I'm not gonna mind if you use that. But I use imitation crab - which is actually fish flavored like crab. Because that is how we roll.

Either way, this is good grub.

1 pound crab meat
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sage
1 cup fat free mayo or miracle whip (get full fat if you must!)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350F.

Now just mix all that up real good in a bowl. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and form patties. This will make about 10-11 patties. Stick it in your oven for about a half hour.

Serve! About 2 points per patty. Not bad, not bad at all.

Here, shown with some fat-free honey mustard dressing, salsa, spanish rice and steamed french green beans.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hearty Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

No, it  is not as scary as it sounds! I promise! The key to a non artery-clogging Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf?

Extra Lean Turkey Bacon. And Very Lean 97/3 Ground Beef. Yes. So this isn't gonna kill ya.

1 pound extra lean 97/3 (or 93/7 if you really want it) ground beef
7 slices extra lean turkey bacon
4 slices bread (I prefer whole wheat but you can use white)
1 cup fat free milk (or you can use whole or 2 % really)
1 egg, beaten
4 ounces fat free cream cheese, softened
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup pickle relish

For the topping:

1/2 cup tomato ketchup
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Soak the bread in milk, and make sure the bread sops all the milk up and set aside.

In a big mixing bowl, throw in your ground beef, egg, cheese, pepper, garlic and relish. Mix it up real good. Use your hands! Now toss the milk-soaked bread and mix it up again. Get in there! Knead till all the bread is broken up and the cheese is blended in.

Transfer your mixture onto an ovenproof dish (or even a cookie sheet!) sprayed with nonstick spray. Shape into a log. Wrap your bacon around it, overlapping so there are no spaces. You're not gonna wrap it around the entire width of the loaf, just around and tuck it under so it's all neat.

Mix up your topping in a bowl and spread over the top of your bacon. If you want more sauce, whip up a second batch. Your call. Now put your dish in the oven and bake for about an hour.

When it's cooked, it looks like this.

And I like to preslice it so people around here can see how much a serving is.

It is a good size, folks. Yes, it serves 4.

About 8 points a slice. Told ya it's ok. It's in the taste, not the fat! Very kid friendly too.

I served it with baked red potatoes and greens. To. Die. For. Well, not literally.

Peach Upside Down Cake

I made this one day because I bought a whole big box of fresh organic peaches from Costco (that means BULK) and they were gonna go bad if I didn't do something with them, and fast! My husband does NOT like peaches, but I didn't know that when I bought it, so I had to be pretty careful how I used them. He wouldn't eat it in a pie, so I made a cake! You better believe he ate this up! And he wants me to make more! SCORE! Serves 8.

6 peaches, peeled, seeded and sliced (or you can use 3 cans of sliced peaches, you cheater!)
1 cup sugar, plus an extra 2 tbsp for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten

First off, preheat your oven to 350F.

Get your peaches and spread them on a 9x13 baking pan (which has been sprayed with nonstick spray, of course).  Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of sugar on them and set that aside.

Sift your flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside. In a mixing bowl, Cream your butter with a hand mixer and add your sugar. Mix for a minute on low. Now add in your eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Mix all that till blended. Gradually add in your sifted flour mixture and mix that for about 2 minutes on medium, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate everything.

Note: use actual vanilla extract, please. Not imitation vanilla. It DOES make a difference in taste.

Pour the batter over the peaches in the pan, and put into your oven. Bake for about 45 minutes- 1 hour. It is done when you stick a fork in it and it comes out clean.

Invert onto a cooling rack.

If you are a novice baker, you would want to know that you have to cool your cakes or pastries before you serve them because they are really hot out of the oven. Sounds silly, but yeah.

Dig in! 12 points a slice.

Caribbean Rice

So yummy! You can also add your own choice of meat to make a complete one-pot meal.
Serves about 6.

2 cups long grain rice (white or brown your choice)
1 can pineapple chunks in its own juice
1 can coconut milk
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sugar (or Splenda)

Spray a pan with nonstick spray and saute your onion and garlic for a minute till onions are translucent. Add your bell pepper and rice and saute that for another minute or two. Now add in the pineapple chunks with the juice and the coconut milk. Mix thoroughly and throw in the oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes and sugar (I use Splenda because I am counting points!).

Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes, taking time to peek in now and then and giving it a stir. If rice is still looking kind of too firm, add about a half cup of water and cover for another 5 minutes or so.

It's 6 points a cup.

It is so good you'd wanna roll on the floor.