Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reconstructing Favorites

There are some recipes that I just can't seem to reconstruct enough to make them compatible with Weight Watchers, no matter how hard I try. And trust me, for some of my favorites I try really super hard! This time, I succeeded in a completely different direction and have found a new holiday meal must-have.

I think of sweet potatoes (yams), I think of marshmallows, brown sugar, butter and sweetness. After all, they are sweet potatoes right? Well, not anymore!! No, they're still sweet, it's just the other sweet stuff I'm not going to be thinking of anymore! Now I'll think of feta and fennel and coriander and savory sweetness!

Here's why...

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
6 small orange fleshed sweet potatoes

6 oz crumbled feta, fat free

1/8 tsp ground fennel seed

1/8 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and cut off the sharp pointed ends. Prick all over with a fork and put them in a small roasting pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. While the potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Place the mixture in the refrigerator to marinate until the potatoes are done. When fully baked, remove the potatoes from the oven and cut a "lid" off the top side (not end) of each potato. You want to create the largest "boat" you can but have a wide enough opening to scoop the filling into. When cool enough to handle, carefully scoop the insides of the potatoes out into a small bowl. Mix in about half the feta mixture and let sit for a minute while you turn the skins upside down and spray with cooking spray. This will give them a nice shine when baked. Now fill each "boat" with the feta and potato mixture. Divide the remaining feta between each filled potato and pile high! Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, just until the cheese has started to melt.
And now, we have a sweet potato dish that we can all enjoy!

Although mom didn't care for it , the girls, who don't normally eat the sweet potatoes, loved it! At only 4 points-plus per potato, you can't go wrong!

Don't worry mom, you'll still get your traditional sweet potatoes during the holidays, it will just be a much smaller dish since the rest of us will be eating these!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrations With Food

I cook all the time and definitely don't need a special occasion to make special food. I love the creative process and the billions of tastes and flavor combinations that happen in the kitchen no matter what the celebration, holiday or occasion.

It's Easter time and of course that means another holiday event that has it's traditional menu of family favorites and traditions. Why deviate? I've tried the deviation route and it failed miserably - why do it? To me and my family, the food served on Easter Sunday must resemble brunch served sometime around 11:00 and then a Ham dinner. Easy enough right? Nobody has any other expectations than that so as long as I stick to those simple rules everybody will be happy and I can create to my hearts content!

Brunch - big or small? This year - small and late! We had a wonderful evening with friends the night before which required a return trip to bed after sunrise service! Late or not, the family raved over our small brunch and we'll definitely be repeating it.

Healthified Monkey Bread

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cans Pillsbury reduced-fat biscuits
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup fat-free caramel topping
2 tsp vanilla

Heat the oven to 350. Spray a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan with cooking spray. In a 1-gallon resealable food storage plastic bag, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Separate both cans of dough into 16 biscuits. Cut each biscuit into quarters. Add biscuit pieces to sugar mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Layer biscuit pieces and pecans in the prepared pan. In a small bowl, mix the caramel topping and vanilla. Pour over the biscuit pieces. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in the center. Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm. (Serves 16)

This yummy treat is 6 points-plus for four pieces (a full biscuit). Although that's quite a few points for only one part of brunch, it's substantially less than the "real stuff" and yet has all the flavor and warmth. Can't wait to make this one in the Dutch oven while camping!

And now for the main event!!

Maple Sausage & Waffle Casserole

6 homemade waffles, using fat free mix
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 links turkey breakfast sausage
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 2%
6 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup, sugar free
2 cups milk, 2%
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the sausage from casings and brown in a skillet until no longer pink, drain on paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, saute the onions, peppers and celery until softened. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage. Coat an 11x8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Cut the waffles in half and arrange 6 halves to cover the bottom. There will be some space between the halves. Sprinkle the waffles with half the sausage mixture and half the cheese. Repeat the layer with the remaining waffles, sausage and cheese. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl with the syrup, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the waffle layers. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are puffy. Cool 5 minutes and serve. (Serves 10)

At only 5 points-plus per serving this sweet and savory breakfast casserole will please everybodys palate!

And that's it! Believe it or not, that's all we had for brunch this year and everybody was very satisfied! Nope - no eggs Benedict, no fruit with the chocolate fountain and no seafood selection. Plain and simple - perfectly delicious!

Hurry and clean up - almost time to start dinner!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Change - is it always a good thing?

Change... good thing?  Bad thing?  Necessary?  Inevitable?
Not applicable this time!

Usually, when I find a recipe, I adapt it, change it, add, subtract and rearrange it. I never seem to be able to stick with the recipe as published, posted or printed. Control issues? Naw, I don't think so!

This is one recipe I will follow to the dotted "i" and crossed "t" - I hope you all enjoy it!

Arroz Con Pollo
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 o
nion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 4 oz. can diced chilies
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth, fat free
1 cup dried white rice
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 cup shredded cheddar/colby cheese, 2%

Put cumin, coriander and turmeric in a one gallon resealable bag.  Add cubed chicken and shake until well coated. (Mine ended up marinating for a couple hours while I ran and picked up the girls!) 

In a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter.   Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant.  Add 
seasoned chicken to the skillet with the garlic and saute until no longer pink. Add the onion and peppers to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.   Add chilies and tomatoes and mix well.   Add broth, rice and remaining spices.  
Bring to a boil.  Simmer covered for about 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.  Spread cheese over the top, cover for a minute or two and allow the cheese to melt completely.

That's it! Simple and simply amazing! And only 6 points plus for a full 1 cup serving!
We all agreed we could make ourselves sick on this by overeating! It's one of those dishes that you clear your plate from the table but keep your fork in your hand so you can stop by the pan of leftovers and snag a couple more bites!