Saturday, December 31, 2011

Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy - Oven or Crockpot

I decided it's New Year's Eve, it's festive, time for some food that sticks to your ribs. And what could be more hearty than beef? The gravy is wonderful served over potatoes, pasta or rice. Serves 6.

2-3 pound chuck roast (or any cut beef roast you prefer)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup white wine
2 cans mushrooms
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp liquid smoke

Mix the soup, wine, mushrooms, onion soup mix, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in the crockpot, taking care that everything is incorporated.

Rub the beef with the liquid smoke and paprika, making sure it is well covered. Spray a pan with nonstick spray and put on high heat. When hot, place the beef in the pan and brown all of the sides, holding it up with a pair of tongs to make sure everything is evenly browned.

Place roast in the crockpot.

Spoon some of the mushroom mixture over the top of the roast.

Cook on high about 6 hours or on low about 10 hours. Take Roast out. Dilute 3 tbsps of flour into 1/2 cup water, stirring well to get rid of lumps. Pour into the crockpot, stir well and replace lid. Cover for about 5-10 minutes to thicken. Spoon over roast.

If you prefer to use your oven, bake the roast uncovered at 400F for about 1 hour till browned. Pour the mushroom mixture into the baking dish and spoon over the top of the roast. Cover with aluminum foil and reduce heat to about 325F. Bake for an extra 1.5-2 hours.

About 8 points a serving. The wine lends a subtle sophisticated taste. Sure to Wow your guests!

We had it with Hoppin' John and Collard Greens. We like it this way.

Caramel Flan

This is easy and delicious. This is one of my favorite desserts! I decided since it is New Year's Eve, I might as well enjoy this. I love the creamy texture, just perfect. Serves 10.

For the Flan:

12 egg yolks, beaten
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

And for the Caramel Glaze:

1/2 cup sugar

Mix together the egg yolks, evaporated milk, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Make sure to mix everything together well. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, set on medium-high heat and pour the sugar in. The sugar will melt down, stir it gently so there would be no lumps. Reduce heat to medium. Do not allow to boil, or the glaze will taste burnt.

Spray a loaf pan (or any mold you prefer) with nonstick spray and pour caramel glaze in. Pour the egg mixture over the glaze and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Set pan into a bigger pan half-filled with water and place into a preheated 375F oven. Bake for about 50 minutes. You will want it to be firm to the touch. Stick a fork into the flan, and if it comes out clean, it is done. Chill immediately, about 3 hours. Invert onto serving dish.

So yummy! About 7 points a serving. It is an AWESOME dessert!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easy Vegetable Frittata

This is a no-fuss way to make Frittata. Makes a nice breakfast or a light dinner. It's also Vegetarian and good for you. Serves 8.

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 4-oz can mushroom, drained
1 can tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp minced garlic

Spray a pan with nonstick spray. Proceed to saute bell pepper, onion, mushroom, tomatoes and garlic. Saute till tender. Drain any liquid and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add the parsley, black pepper and paprika and blend well. Add your sauteed vegetables in the bowl and mix together. Spray a pan with nonstick spray and pour egg mixture in. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 25 minutes. You want the edges a bit brown and the top firm.

An amazing 1 point per serving! Tastes great AND super healthy! You can use egg replacer if you are watching your cholesterol.

Go ahead, dig in!

Tangy Angel Hair Pasta

This is one of my favorite side dishes. The grape tomato and garlic blends very well together. Very simple and easy to make. Would go well with a lot of main dishes. Serves 4.

8 oz Angel Hair pasta
32 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper

Prepare Angel Hair as package directs. Set aside.

Spray a pot with nonstick spray and heat on high. Add your grape tomatoes and garlic. Saute for a minute and cover, putting heat on medium. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. You want the tomato skins to get a little loose and there should be some juice in the pan. Add the basil, oregano and black pepper, and mix well. Finally add your prepared pasta and toss together.

Only 5 points per serving! Delish!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Southern Chess Pie

This is a nice, sweet pie traditionally made in the Southern United States. What sets it apart is the addition of cornmeal. Makes a wonderful dessert to round off a meal. Serves 8.

1 8-inch pie crust, see here
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps cornmeal
1 tbsp flour

Prepare Pie Crust. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, condensed milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the cornmeal and flour and mix well, for about 2 minutes on medium. Pour into prepared pie crust and put into a preheated 350F oven. Bake for about 45 minutes. You would want it firm to the touch, and has a thin golden brown crust on top.

Nice, creamy and satisfying. 9 points per slice. Watch out! It is so rich and good!

Help yourself!


Sweet Banana Pockets

I had some leftover Pie Crust Dough and I didn't want it to go to waste, so I thought, "Hmm, what can I do to use this up?" I looked around my kitchen and saw some bananas and figured I could probably make it work. And it did! The family loved it! I had enough dough for 2 pockets, but generally 1 pie crust is equal to 4 pockets.

Make Pie Crust like this.

For the filling:

1 sliced banana per pocket
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar

Mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and sugar in a bowl. Add however many bananas you will need. If you are making 4 pockets, you will need 4 bananas. Mix them up well. Spoon out onto rolled out dough. Fold dough over and crimp edges to make a pocket. You can use a fork to press down on the edges to make it all even.

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and put pockets on it. Spray pockets with nonstick spray. Stick into a preheated 350F oven for about 45 minutes. And done!

About 6 points per pocket. Not too bad!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chicken Molasses with Veggies

This is an easy casserole that I just threw together spur of the moment. I was looking at some of my cookbooks and I was not satisfied with the selection I saw, so I decided to just go and do my own thing. This recipe calls for molasses, which isn't used as frequently as it used to be in the old days. But it has a unique sweet taste and really jazzes up food. Serves 4.

4 Chicken Breasts, cut in half
3 tbsps molasses
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 bell pepper, chopped, your choice of color
8 small red potatoes, cut in half
8 gourmet mushrooms, sliced
24 brussel sprouts

In a small bowl, mix up the molasses, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Spray an ovenproof dish with nonstick spray and lay your chicken breasts in it. Spoon the molasses mixture over it, making sure to cover both sides of the chicken. Arrange the mushrooms around the chicken. Put the bell pepper over the chicken. Arrange potatoes over over and around the mushrooms and put the brussel sprouts in the middle. Sprinkle the garlic and onion powder over everything.

Cover (or use foil) and put into a preheated to 375F oven. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Just out of the oven!

About 8 points a serving. You can spoon the sauce over everything and it will lend a sweet, slightly spicy tang to everything! Enjoy, mateys!

Creamy Pasta With Ham

As you know, we celebrated Winter Solstice and now we have a lot of leftover ham. This is one good way I used it. It tastes great! And very quick to prepare, about 15 minutes. Serves 4.

2 cups skim half and half (or just milk, if you prefer)
3 tbsp flour or cornstarch
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp parsley
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 pound noodles of your choice, prepared (I used spaghetti noodles)

Over medium heat, put half and half or milk in a pot and add in your flour. Using a wire whisk, blend well until all lumps are gone. Add the garlic, cayenne pepper and parsley, and mix well. Heat till sauce is creamy but not boiling. Add the ham and mix. Heat through. Add the noodles, and coat well with the sauce. Cover and heat for about 10 minutes. Mix well. Sprinkle a little more parsley on top.

Serve! Only 7 points a serving! And a really tasty, simple way to use leftover ham. You can also use chicken if you wish. Eat up!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice 2011

We decided to celebrate Winter Solstice for a bit of a change this year. It came on the December 21st (well, the 22nd in other parts), and we had a good time. Of course our dinner spread was fabulous. And I posted all the recipes on here of course!

From Left: Layered Strawberry Shortcake, Crockpot Sugar-Rubbed Pineapple Ham, Rich Berry Cheesecake, Sweet Potatoes and Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
We went out to a bouncy house place where the kids can go play for a while and I shopped for jeans. I've been going through clothes so quick. Of course you know I have been doing the Weight Watchers Points Plus Program since 6 weeks post partum in May 2011. I wore a size 18 or 20 and I felt so bloated and fat. LOL! I know I just had a baby but I decided it's time for some serious lifestyle changes. I just LOVE Weight Watchers Points Plus, and it is breastfeeding friendly. I am now in a size 5/6 barely 8 months postpartum and very close to my goal of a size 4. Happy about that! I also do an hour of Power Yoga everyday and I cannot tell you the difference it makes in how I look and feel. It is AMAZING. Makes me feel so centered and with it.

I started Weight Watchers May 23rd, 2011:


These pictures taken 12/21/2011.

But my main goal really is to get in better health. We parents want to be around as long as we could for our kids, and I decided that I can't waste any time. My kids are very important to me and I want to take care of myself as best as I can so I can take care of them for as long as I can. And Weight Watchers makes it easy for me. Thank you, Weight Watchers!

And here are a few pictures of our family from our Winter Solstice celebration. It was fun!

Opening Presents! They get them earlier than the 25th!

Happy Winter Solstice, folks!

Layered Strawberry Shortcake

This is one of my husband's favorite desserts. He requested I make it for the holidays and I did! The whole family loved it! And it's actually pretty light on the calories. Serves 8.

For the cake layers:

16 egg whites
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp almond extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 cups flour, sifted

For the berry sauce:

2 cups strawberries, cut lengthwise
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, beat your egg white with an electric mixer on high, so that it gets all light and frothy. You can use egg whites or liquid egg substitute, which is basically egg whites. So beat that, and add your cream of tartar and beat some more. You want it really frothy and light. Add your almond extract. Then the sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time, beating the whole time. You really want it frothy. Lastly, add the flour and beat for another 2 minutes.

Spray 2 round cake pans with nonstick spray and pour the batter in evenly. Place to bake in a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour or so. It should be firm to the touch.

Loosen the sides with a spatula and place on cooling racks to cool for about 3 hours.

Now make your berry sauce. Just put all your strawberries into a saucepan and add the confectioners sugar and lemon juice. Heat till sugar has melted and sauce has thickened. Berries will be glazed.

Spoon on top of one cake layer, like so.

Then place the second cake layer on top and spoon the remaining berry sauce on top of that.

Now isn't that beautiful? About 10 points a slice. If you substituted Splenda for the confectioners sugar in the cake, you can shave that down to 6 points! And no, you can't tell either, which is the best part. Now get a plate and put a slice on it!

Rich Berry Cheesecake

I LOVE CHEESECAKE! I don't know anyone who doesn't. This cheesecake tastes wonderful and is easier to make than you think! Serves 8.

For the Crust:

2 cups crushed graham crackers
5 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

For the Filling:

2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

For the Topping:

2 cups berries of your choice
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix the graham crackers, melted butter and sugar in a bowl well. Spoon mixture onto the bottom of a springform pan and press down to get it all uniform and compact. It should look like this.

Now cover the pan with some plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours (I did it overnight).

Now for the filling. Get your cream cheese and whip up well with an electric mixer till it's all nice and creamy. Add the confectioners sugar and mix well. Add your eggs one at a time, mixing well in between. Add the vanilla extract and yogurt (or sour cream, your choice) and whip it up good, about 2 minutes. Spray sides of springform pan with some nonstick spray and pour onto your prepared crust, like so.

Bake into a preheated 325F oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. It should be firm to the touch when it is done. Loosen the edges with a spatula and open pan to release the cake.

To make your topping, put your berries, confectioners sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat till sugar is dissolved and sauce has thickened. You can play with how much confectioners sugar you may need depending on how thick you want your sauce to be, so don't be afraid to add a little more if you wish. Pour on top of your cheesecake.

Let cool and refrigerate for a few hours. And serve! It'll be a hit! About 11 points a slice. But you can shave that down to only 6 points by using fat free cheese, fat free yogurt or sour cream, 1 cup of Splenda instead of confectioners sugar, liquid egg substitute, and reduced fat graham crackers for the crust. There is NO compromise on taste however! Will still taste full and rich, no one will ever know it's waistline friendly!


Crockpot Green Bean Casserole

This was popularized in the 1930s and tastes great, except this is going to be cooked in the crockpot. So that takes a lot of work out! Serves 6.

1 pound Green Beans, chopped evenly
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of French's Onions or crushed Ritz Crackers mixed with a little onion powder, your choice

Mix the soup, soy sauce, milk and cayenne pepper in the crockpot, making sure to blend away any lumps. Set the green beans in and mix, coating everything with the soup mixture.

Set crockpot on 3 hours high or 4 hours low. Usually it will get tender in 3-4 hours.

When done, sprinkle French's French Fried Onions or crushed Ritz Crackers mixed with about 1/2 tsp onion powder for some zing over the beans. And serve! About 3 points a serving.

Crockpot Sugar-Rubbed Pineapple Ham

I've been posting a lot of crockpot meals lately. We have been so busy because of the holiday season that some days I have little time to prepare meals. That is why I love my crockpot so much! Makes things so much easier for me. Other mommies can agree that time is scarce when you have kids. Now this recipe is so simple and quick, it's unbelievable. Plus it tastes so good! Serves 16.

1 4 pound Ham (I used Black Forest Ham)
1/2 cup brown sugar (more or less)
1 can pineapple chunks in it's own juice

Rub the ham all over with the brown sugar. Set in the crockpot and pour some of the pineapple juice over it. Arrange the pineapple chunks around it, like so.

Since it was going to cook in the crock and that meant moist and juicy, I stuck 2 quartered sweet potatoes all around the ham. Poured a little bit of the pineapple juice on them too.

Cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. And Serve! It's is so amazing, and the sweet potatoes are nice and tender with a slight hint of pineapple taste! Only 3 points per serving too! Enjoy, and I mean it!

Sliced Ham with the Sweet Potatoes in the background

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yummo Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a quick-mix chocolate chip cookie that you can whip up for the kids. There is a low-fat option too. These are melty and yummy. Makes 2 dozen.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, whip up the butter and sugar till blended. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, eggs and vanilla. Mix together for about 2 minutes till a soft dough is formed. You can use an electric mixer, or just by hand. Fold in the chocolate chips.

I personally line my cookie sheets with Parchment Paper, but you can spray the sheet with nonstick spray instead. Spoon out the dough with a teaspoon about 2 inches apart on the sheet and stick into a preheated 350F oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Here they are! A whopping 8 points per cookie.

To shave off some points, substitute Splenda for the sugar, applesauce for the butter, egg substitute for the eggs and only put in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. That should bring it down to 3 points. Mind you, it will change the texture slightly and it will be a little bit lighter in color, but it makes a guilt free alternative!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pork Chops Dijon

Healthy and Easy. Dijon mustard gives this meal that extra kick. Serve with noodles rice or potatoes of your choice, this will go with anything! Serves 4.

4 pork chop cutlets, trimmed of fat, about 1 pound
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard (more or less)

Spray a cookie sheet or ovenproof dish with nonstick spray and lay the pork chops on it. Sprinkle both sides with the black pepper and paprika. Bake in a preheated to 375F oven for about 20 minutes, turning halfway to cook evenly.

Spray a pan with nonstick spray and saute garlic and onion a couple minutes. Set aside. In the same pan, pour in the milk and add flour one tbsp at a time, using a wire whisk to blend, making sure to get rid of any lumps. Add water, whisking evenly. Sauce should be somewhat thickened. Add the cayenne pepper and dijon mustard and blend. Set heat on medium. Add the onions and garlic and mix well. Finally, add the baked pork chops, mix. Cover and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes on medium.

Yes! Here it is. About 6 points a serving.

I served it with Hoppin' John and Collard Greens. Yep, we love them greens and beans in this house.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Ranch

Yes, another crockpot meal to enjoy. This is simple and delicious. Really easy to prepare! And it tastes like you worked real hard making it! Serves 4.

4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts, cubed or halved
1 10 oz can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 packet Ranch Dressing Mix
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp Parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less)
8 oz baby carrots

Dump the mushroom soup, ranch dressing mix and parsley into the crockpot and mix well. I used low fat cream of mushroom and fat free cream cheese. Add the cream cheese and red pepper flakes and mix. Finally, add the chicken and carrots. Give another good stir. Set on high 4 hours or on low 6 hours. Mix 3 tbsps of flour in 1/2 cup of water and stir into the crockpot. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken.

DONE! So simple! About 6 points a serving. Serve with either rice, noodles or potatoes. Delicious.

Served on top of rice

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Crockpot Roasted Pork Loin with Apple and Veggies

I like coming home to a home-cooked dinner. I love my crockpot so much. Not much effort and the food cooks unattended. This Pork Loin dinner is delicious and filling. I am sure your family will enjoy this.

2 pound lean Pork Loin
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
8 small Red Potatoes, cut in half (or you can use any potato you want)
8 oz baby carrots
1 apple, cored and sliced

Mix the Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika and Cinnamon Powder in a small bowl. Add the Liquid Smoke and mix well into a paste. Rub well onto the Pork Loin.

Spray a pan with nonstick spray and brown the pork loin on all sides. Spray the Crock with nonstick spray and lay the pork loin in it. Pour a little more Liquid Smoke over it if you wish. Line sides of the crockpot with the potatoes and carrots, and place the apple slices on top of the pork loin.

Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.

Freshly cooked in the crockpot

7 points a serving. I love that you get a good, filling, healthy meal and not work too hard to make it! The crockpot rules, I swear.

Tip: You can make gravy with the liquid on the bottom of the crockpot by straining it into a pot, and adding 3 tbsps of flour, mixing thoroughly and making sure there are no lumps. Use a wire whisk, on medium heat. Add some pepper and a little salt, if you wish. Pour over your food. Yummy.