Friday, April 30, 2010

Hot Italian Favorites!

Good morning and happy Friday!! I'm so excited to be here, sipping my coffee in the company of only felines & canines, all the two-legged family members still snoring or off to work. I adore my Friday morning alone time!

I have a couple of recipes to share with you, both by Giada De Laurentiis (love her!) and both using up the springtime vegetable bounty. Though I don't have many veggies ready for picking in my garden yet, I did have just enough leaf lettuce to make a small salad. What a thrill it is to go out to one's own garden and prepare a meal using fresh ingredients that we've grown ourselves! It really makes you appreciate the hard work that went into growing it, no?

The first recipe, Pasta Ponza, I made last night to rave reviews. Quick, easy and oh-so-delicious! I served it alongside the aforementioned salad and a nice loaf of Italian bread. I know, it's pretty high in calories/fat/POINTS but it was truly worth it, I promise! Besides, I've decided that it works better for me to eat less of the "real deal" instead of so many substitutions, but more about that later.

Pasta Ponza

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4 cups cherry tomatoes -- (12 ounces) halved
1/4 cup capers -- rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil -- plus extra for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt -- plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper -- plus extra for seasoning
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 pound ziti pasta
1 1/4 cups romano cheese -- (Pecorino Romano)
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley -- chopped

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 450 Calories; 10g Fat (20.7% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 69g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 24mg Cholesterol; 769mg Sodium. 9 WW POINTS.

Beren and I are leaving for Ormond tonight, will be spending 10 blissful days of vacation up there, yay! Before we head north, though, I'm going to make my children one more healthy meal because God knows what they'll eat while I'm away. *grin*

Tomato Vegetable Casserole

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1 medium potato -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yam -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper -- seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion -- thinly sliced into rings
2 small zucchini -- cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
Salt and pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes -- cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
Fresh basil sprigs -- for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the potato, yam, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Parmesan bread crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs, if desired.

Serves 6.

Start to Finish Time:
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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 208 Calories; 11g Fat (47.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 209mg Sodium. 4 WW POINTS.

Enjoy,and have a Beauty-Full Day,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Earth Day Weekend!

In honor of Earth Day, and just because we felt like doing some gardening, Beren and I planted an herb garden in Ormond last weekend. I know I worked off a bunch of calories because my calves & thighs were killing me afterward!

(to my nail tech's dismay, I garden barehanded and barefooted)

This weekend we're working on a butterfly garden, can't wait to get dirty with Beren again! *wink*

To use up all of those delicious herbs, I'm making Sausage Pizzaiola Style from Claire's Italian Feast. I eliminate the olive oil, using a non-stick skillet and spritz of olive-oil flavored cooking spray instead, bringing the POINTS value down from 11 to a mere 7. Along with a big green salad this is going to be a healthy, filling meal!

Sausage Pizzaiola Style

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1/4 cup olive oil
2 large yellow onions -- cut into thick ribs
11 ounces meatless sausage link -- cut into 1-inch-thick slices
1 pound mushrooms -- quartered
salt and pepper -- to taste
28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
4 medium potatoes -- peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup frozen green peas -- thawed

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, sausages, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Add the tomatoes, water, potatoes, oregano, wine, and parsley. Stir to combine. Cover and bring to a medium boil (this will take about 15 minutes). Cook at a medium boil, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the green peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the peas are heated through. Taste for seasonings.

"This delicious meal is also convenient to make. Cook it in one pot on top of the stove, and a short time later you can enjoy a complete dinner - and have only one pot to wash!"
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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 570 Calories; 29g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 60g Carbohydrate; 12g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1023mg Sodium. 11 POINTS before Redux, 7 POINTS by eliminating olive oil.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Sexy Brunette Yellow Dress

When we arrived in Ormond last night we discovered that Spring has indeed arrived, heat & humidity along with it! Since I happened to have a ton of lemons on hand, I thought a nice glass of lemonade would be nice to sip on the patio. This recipe is from The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given, copyright 1958.

lemonade 0


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
About 4 cups ice water

Remove seeds from lemon juice but do not strain. Add sugar and water and stir quickly until sugar dissolves. Serve immediately, as the flavor deteriorates on standing. Amount of water and sugar both may be varied to suit personal tastes. 5 Servings. 2 WW POINTS

While 2 POINTS is not a big deal, I easily cut it down to Zero by eliminating the sugar and using 2 packets of Splenda per glass instead. How's that for an easy redux? that it's cocktail hour, how about adding a bit of tequila & a splash of cranberry juice to the lemonade, making it a Mexican Breeze? Oooh, yeah! What a refreshing 2 POINT adult beverage! Mmmmm....

Have a Lovely, Lemony Day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Idea of Exercise

Ah, Loki, if only it were this easy!

Finally Friday!

Oooh, you all have no idea how happy I was to wake up this morning after a fabulous night's sleep, knowing that I have the whole day off and tax season is OVER! Yippee!!
I still have a couple more weeks of Quarterlies but that's a regular thing, nowhere near the pressure & stress that occurs from Jan 1 - April 15th!

Now, I promised you some recipes and failed to deliver, I'm so sorry! I'll post them below right after I pour a big mug of fresh coffee and bask in luxury of a day completely to myself! Ahh....

Moroccan Slow-Cooker Stew

POINTS® Value: 4
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 365 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Though delicious on its own, our cumin-scented stew can also please heartier appetites when spooned over whole wheat couscous and sprinkled with minced cilantro.

1 spray(s) cooking spray
1 small onion(s), chopped
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
1 cup(s) carrot(s), baby
1 cup(s) canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup(s) vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp table salt

* Coat a small skillet with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes.

* Place squash in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker (crockpot). Add sauteed onion and garlic, carrots, tomatoes, broth, cinnamon, cumin and red pepper flakes. Cover and turn on to low heat; simmer for 6 hours.

* Add chickpeas and salt. Stir, cover and heat for an additional 5 minutes. Yields about 1 1/3 cups per serving.


* *Partially cooking a hard-shell squash makes it easier to peel. Pierce the gourd in several places with a fork, microwave on HIGH for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on size, and then peel.

Top with plain, fat-free Greek yogurt to help cut the spice (may affect POINTS values).


Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti

Was POINTS® Value: 14
Now POINTS® Value: 8
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 10 min
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Traditional shrimp scampi is loaded with butter. Our version eliminates most of the fat, but still packs in all the flavor.

2 tsp olive oil
6 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 pound(s) shrimp, medium, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup(s) wine, dry white or vermouth
2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
8 oz uncooked linguini, cooked and kept hot
1/4 cup(s) parsley, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp basil, fresh, thinly sliced


* Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add oregano and stir to coat. Add shrimp and sauté until bright pink, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer about 1 minute.

* Dissolve cornstarch in chicken broth in a small cup and whisk until blended; add mixture to skillet and simmer 2 minutes, until sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

* Transfer cooked linguini to four individual shallow bowls and spoon shrimp and sauce over top; sprinkle with parsley and basil. Yields about 1 1/3 cups of pasta, 1/4 cup of sauce and 3 ounces of shrimp per serving.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Menu Planning

As I mentioned before, it's going to be a busy week at the office so there won't be a lot of time for cooking. So, here's my meal plan for the week, recipes to follow:

Meatless Monday ~ Slow-Cooked Stuffed Peppers (recipe below)
Take-Out Tuesday ~ Pizza for Beren & the kids, leftovers for me
Weight Watchin' Wednesday ~ Moroccan Slow-Cooker Stew
Thrifty Thursday ~ Tax Day! Definitely Thrifty for me as the office treats us to dinner! *wink*
Fishy Friday ~ Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti
Slow-Mo Saturday ~ Slow-Cooker Lentil Soup
Social Sunday ~ BBQ ala Beren, never know what he'll cook up but it's likely to be fish for me, burgers for him

Here's today's recipe, again from Taste of Home but tweaked a bit by me to bring down POINTS:

Slow-Cooked Stuffed Peppers
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4 medium sweet red peppers
15 ounces black beans -- rinsed and drained
1 cup cheddar cheese, lowfat -- shredded
3/4 cup salsa
1 small onion -- chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup brown rice -- uncooked
1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the beans, cheese, salsa, onion, corn, rice, chili powder and cumin; spoon into peppers. Place in a 5-qt slow cooker coated with cooking spray.

Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through. Serve with sour cream if desired.

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 184 Calories; 3g Fat (14.5% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 6mg Cholesterol; 396mg Sodium. 3 WW POINTS.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm Back!

I took a little break from all "social networking" as well as blogging, it was good for me but I missed all of you in cyberspace and am happy to be back!

While I was gone I spent a lot of time feeding, playing with & cleaning up after's a big adjustment introducing a puppy into an already busy/messy life! I've been working from home as well to keep up on tax season overload while still keeping an eye on aforementioned furry friend.

On the weight loss front, I gained and lost, putting me back to my starting weight. I'm not frustrated anymore, though, because I know what I've got to do and am prepared to do it..finally.

I've decided to get more serious about planning my meals, remembering the old adage, "if you fail to plan, plan to fail." With that in mind, I'll be sitting down this weekend and making a weekly menu, shopping for ingredients and doing some bulk cooking. Especially with Tax Day looming, my week is going to be super-busy so I need to make things really easy on myself.

One of the dishes I'll be cooking is Enchilada Lasagna, originally from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine. Already a healthy recipe, I tweaked it even further to bring down the calories & POINTS values.

Enchilada Lasagna

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12 ounces boca® Meatless Ground Crumbles
1 large onion -- chopped
1 large green pepper -- chopped
1 small red pepper -- chopped
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
10 ounces enchilada sauce
4 whole Flat-Out Light Flatbread
1 cup cheddar cheese, lowfat -- or Mexican Blend, shredded

In a large skillet, cook the veggie crumbles, onion and peppers over medium heat until crumbles are defrosted and vegetables are soft. Stir in cream cheese and chili powder.

Pour enchilada sauce in a shallow bowl. Dip tortillas in sauce to coat. Place two tortillas in a 13-in x 9-in baking dish coated with cooking spray spread with half the crumble mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Repeate layers. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese.

Cover and freeze for up to 3 months or bake, uncovered at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

To use frozen lasagna: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake as directed.

Serves 8.

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 155 Calories; 7g Fat (35.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 496mg Sodium. 3 WW POINTS.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,