Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Make the Most of Summer!

If you know me, you could blurt out my favorite season without thought! I am absolutely head over heals in love with autumn. If you've ever been around me during a hot Mississippi/Louisiana summer, you've also probably heard me say how much I hate summer. Though the summers in the places that most people who read this live are flaming hot and ridiculously humid, I'm reluctantly willing to accept that summer has it's good sides too. This summer I've learned to appreciate summer for other reasons! Don't get me wrong, summer and I are still not bffs, BUT parts of it have grown on me. Any guess?? The food offerings to cook, bake and create with! (Pool time and vacations aren't so bad either.)

The summer is full of fun food. From the sweetest fresh fruits to the crispest fresh garden vegetables to a succulent red ripe garden tomato and even to those favorite dishes and grilled things we spoon on our plates at the many summer BBQs, parties and holiday celebrations. For those healthy eaters out there (that I've now become), we can be lead astray by some of those summer favorites. Salads packed and layered with mayo, desserts decadent with cream, butter and sugar. BUT we don't have to be trapped. Healthy does not at all have to mean a lack of flavor!

Potato Salad

Who doesn't love it? Whose Mamaw doesn't make the BEST one? It's good! No way around it. Unfortunately, most of our grandmother's recipes for potato salad are full of fatty mayonnaise. Skinny taste to the rescue again: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/06/baby-red-potato-salad.html! I was on call for 4th of July and couldn't attend the family BBQ, so my brother drove up and we had our own little cookout. He made ribs and I made the sides and dessert. It took a little convincing for me to talk him into letting me make a potato salad that wasn't like our Mamaw's, but he loved it! He said he even liked it better than normal potato salad. That speaks volumes, especially since he's not even on a diet! I made the recipe exactly like hers. For the very minimal mayo I used Kraft 50 % less fat olive oil mayo. Make sure to let it sit. It tastes so much better if it rests for at least 30 minutes.

Grilled Peaches and Apples

The fruit summer offers is too good to not take advantage of! You've seen my previous posts with summer fruits like the strawberry cookies and strawberry trifle. But the dessert I made for our cookout was with peaches and apples! I roughly used skinny taste's grilled peaches recipe: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/05/grilled-peaches.html.

I used 1 peach and 1 apple, I prefer gala or fuji. Sprayed them with parkay spray butter, sprinkled them lightly with brown sugar. My brother grilled them, the peach was soft, the apple was not, but I like it that way. I mixed 1/2 cup of non fat plain greek yogurt with about 2 tbsp of honey. Then I mixed in 1/4 cup of fat free cool whip and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and mixed it into the mixture. I topped each half with a couple tablespoons of the mixture and drizzled honey on top. I also used my cinnamon sugar grinder to sprinkle cinnamon on top. 

Our very first cookout with no help from parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles was a success!

Make the most of the rest of summer! Grill everything! Watermelon is lovely grilled as are pineapple, peaches, apples, and every vegetable. Eat fruits like they are going out of style! Because they soon won't be as luscious and cheap. Mix 2 tablespoons of Nutella with 1 splash of milk to thin it out and dip strawberries in it! Best dessert and snack ever! And healthy! Enjoy it while it lasts. Soon our recipes will be filled with pumpkin, aromatic spices and winter squashes. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

I LOVE strawberries. As soon as spring arrives and the cost drops you better believe they will be in my refrigerator. They are a "free" food on weight watchers and like candy! I was browsing recipes to make for community group and didn't want to purchase any ingredients. I wanted to work with what I had and happened upon a strawberry shortcake cookie recipe! Um.. yes please?! If you want the full fat recipe (which is totally acceptable sometimes particularly when feeding other, hehe) you can find the one I based mine from here. I adapted the recipe quite a bit to make it Weight Watchers friendly!

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Ingredients with points: 

6 tbsp Brummel and Brown yogurt butter (6 points)
2 tbsp fat free sweet condensed milk (3 points)
little less than 1/2 cup of fake buttermilk (1 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar) (3 points)
2 tbsp sugar (2 points)
1 cup whole wheat flower (8 points)
1 cup all purpose flour (8 points)
1/2 cup sugar (8 points)

"Free" Ingredients: 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp splenda

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, stir together the strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the splenda and set aside. In a large bowl (or stand mixer mixing bowl with flat paddle) mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Spoon the Brummel and Brown into the flour mixture 1 spoon at a time until you have coarse crumbs. Add fat free sweet condensed milk and 1/2 cup of fake buttermilk to the bowl and stir until the dough starts to come together. Gently fold in the strawberry mixture. If the mixture is too dry add more of the fake buttermilk, but not much! I used 2/3 and it was too much, they were too moist. 

Spoon a tad over 1 measuring tablespoon of dough onto a prepared baking sheet or cooking stone. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool for a few moments then transfer cookies to wire racks to continue cooling. The cookies are best the day they're made, but can be kept in an airtight container for 1 day.

38 points / 3 dozen / 1 point each

A little side note. Don't know what to do with the rest of that fat free sweet condensed milk? Add a tablespoon for 1.5 points to a bowl of sliced fresh peaches, nectarines or strawberries or add it to your iced coffee! A decadent treat!

Make Ahead Sweet and Savory Breakfast Muffins

I've seen the idea a lot lately, from friends, food blogs, the Food Network, and Weight Watchers meetings and materials of making breakfast early in the week to eat the whole week. I was hesitant to give it a try until recently. Why you ask? Because I am so predictable and OCD organized that I sometimes fight against adding more rituals. So I didn't want to be boring and eat the same thing for breakfast everyday! (Also, something I mix up my shower routine on purpose just to convince myself I'm not predictable). I was scared I'd tire of eating the same thing and then it would go to waste and that's a big no no! But, in Weight Watchers our instructor gave us a bran muffin recipe that actually looked edible!

I loved them! I used Kroger brand strawberry yogurt. And that should be 1/4 cup of Parkay Spray margarine. I used the optional oat, splenda and cinnamon topping and they were pretty! I plan on experimenting with these by making pumpkin bran muffins! I'll update you when I do :). These are just 3 points a piece and not your typical cardboard bran muffins.

So, these opened my mind to the prepare breakfast for the week idea, which lead me to today's creation! I'm not sure whether to call them Egg Muffins or Crustless Quiche. Looking at recipes I saw both. I encountered the concept from a friend doing South Beach Diet. They are apparently a big South Beach Diet thing. Weight Watchers version were called Crustless Quiches. I think I like that better because it sounds fancy! These could easily be served as a party food too. I based my recipe off of this recipe, but completely made it my own. I didn't use wonton wrappers and my recipe is 1 points for 2!!

Crustless Mini Quiches

Ingredients with points: 
1 cup egg beaters (4)
3 tbsp bacon bits (3)
3 tbsp reduced fat Parmesan grated topping (3)
1 can (1 1/2 cups) fat free evaporated milk (12)
6 slices deli honey smoked turkey (1)
2 slices fat free american cheese (2)

"Free" Ingredients:
1 small vidila finely chopped
1/4th tsp salt
1/8th tsp pepper
1/8th tsp onion powder
1/8th tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chives
1 tsp parsley
(I actually have no ides on the measurements of the spices and herbs, so just do it to taste and look!)

Preheat oven to 350. Saute onions until just almost translucent and set aside to cool. Whisk together egg beaters, milk, spices and herbs. Add bacon bits and Parmesan cheese, whisking together. Finely chop deli turkey and stir in. Stir in cooled onion. Finely chop 2 slices of fat free american cheese and sprinkle in (you could sub any cheese you like or have). If you have mini muffin liners, use them! If not, be sure to spray your pan well. I didn't have them and they came out fine! Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are puffed up and golden brown.

Let them cool in the pan for just a few minutes. They will deflate a little. Run a butter knife around the edge of each to remove and place on a cooling rack to cool. It makes 36 mini muffins. Made like this, they are only 1 point for 2!! They keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, reheat well and freeze well!

Zucchini Noodle "Alfredo" Lasagna

So, I'm not sure if technically speaking we can call this lasagna. I am a nerd and looked up to definition. Lasagna does specifically refer to the pasta, BUT other people call it that so we can too!

I was inspired by a friend who tried something similar, the fact that I had a HUGE fresh zucchini from my Pawpaw's garden and Hungry Girl's recipe. I pretty much used her recipe as a big base and made it my own. I used sun dried tomato basil laughing cow cheese wedges instead of just the swiss. I didn't use any noodles at all. I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta. I added ground turkey instead of mushrooms and spinach (because it's what I had). Lastly, I topped it with just Parmesan and no mozzarella (because I didn't have any).

So I give you what I'm calling...

Zucchini Noodle "Alfredo" Lasagna

Ingredients with points:
4 sun dried tomato laughing cow cheese wedges (4) or substitute any of the low fat Laughing Cow varieties
1 cup FF cottage cheese (3) or can substitute 1 cup fat free ricotta (5)
3/4 cup fat free sour cream (3)
1/4 cup egg beats (1) or can substitute 1/4 cup liquid egg whites / 1/4 cup egg beaters (1)
1 lb ground turkey (24)
6 tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan topping, divided (6)

"Free" ingredients:
1 extra large zucchini or 3 small zucchini, end removed
1 medium vidilia onion
2 small bell peppers (I used 1 yellow and 1 green)
2 tsp. chopped garlic, divided
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to broil on low. Slice zucchini. I used my mandolin on the thin setting slicing length wise. You can also cut it in half widthwise, and then slice each half lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and begin broiling zucchini slices in batches to get a lot of the moisture out. 

While zucchini is broiling add thinly sliced onion, bell pepper, and 1 tsp of garlic to a heated pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray (if you aren't counting points like I am, you can use olive oil, just be aware it will rise the nutrition facts). I added a couple of tablespoons of water to help the veggies cook down. I also sliced my onion and bell pepper on thin with my mandolin. You can also chop them if you'd like. I just like how pretty the round thin slices are. Add 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and sprinkle with salt. Add lean ground turkey. I used 85/15 BUT I rinsed it with warm water after to get the extra oil out. Drain (and rinse if you didn't have the leanest meat) and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, egg beater (or egg whites), other tsp of garlic, oregano, basil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Stir in ground turkey and set aside. To make the sauce, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine sour cream with cheese wedges, breaking cheese wedges into pieces as you add them. Stir in 2 tbsp. Parm-style topping, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Microwave in 30 - 45 seconds intervals, stirring in between until very warm. Stir until smooth and set aside. 

Change oven temperature from broil to 425. Spray an 8" X 8" baking pan with nonstick spray. Blot your zucchini slices to remove any excess moisture. Evenly place 1/3rd of the cooked zucchini strips on the bottom. Spread half of the cottage cheese-turkey mixture on top. Evenly top with a thin layer of zucchini, followed by 1/3rd of the sauce. Repeat layering with the same amounts of zucchini, cottage cheese-turkey mixture, and sauce. Evenly top with remaining zucchini, followed by remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 4 tbsp Parm-style grated topping. Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese starts to brown.

You can add salt and pepper to taste if you'd like. I served it with a side salad. 

6 servings / 7 points a serving!