Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Best Breakfast Potatoes

It's been quite a while since I've been on here and posted anything.  The reason being I've been having a hard time maintaining my own eating plan.  These past few months I've dealt with bipolar problems, and my father passed away.  Neither situation is good for disciplined eating and all for emotional eating.  I am trying hard to get back on track.  I've been talking to a nutritionist again, and in a couple weeks I am going to start talking to an exercise coach.  My daughter joined a gym; it looks really nice and I think I am going to join to.  You just can't beat $10/mo!!!

Anyways, I just wanted to put up a quick post.  This one is hard for me to calculate any nutritional information for because it really depends on the type of potato you use and how much (or how big your waffle iron is).  I'm just going to give you the info for 1 cup of fresh potato to make it general and easy.

You can use any type of frozen potato (tater tots, diced hash browns or shredded hash browns).  I have to admit, I have not tried this with fresh potatoes.  If you try it, let me know how well it worked out for you.  I'm thinking they would have to be cooked a little first to get them soft enough to get pressed by the waffle iron.

UPDATE:  The other day I used thawed diced potatoes, and it didn't work out as well.  I could have been that I didn't spray the waffle iron, but I think it was more that the potatoes didn't mash and cook together the same way the tater did or that shredded hash browns would.  

Thaw frozen potatoes by sitting them out or in the microwave for a minute or two.  Get your waffle iron  hot.  Spray it with pan spray.  Spread your thawed potatoes over the waffle iron, but not too thick but plenty for good coverage.  Press the lid down tight so the square doohickies really mush together well.  My waffle iron beeps when it is done.  It usually takes about 5 minutes or so.

When they are done, they will be nice and crispy, no oily sogginess, and just perfect with a little salt (and I like ketchup).
My kids are so picky about their breakfasts in the mornings, and I truly feel like a short order cook.  Matthew likes eggs with ham and cheese at the moment; Sara doesn't like much of anything and seems to have an upset stomach in the mornings a lot.  She's been eating a piece of Nutella toast with a glass of milk.  Yesterday I tried this idea of the waffle iron potatoes, and guess what!  Both of them asked for it again!  In the picture you see here I used thawed out tater tots.  Next time, though, I'm going to try shredded hash browns.

They turn out just perfect, in my opinion.  I've made hash browns in the skillet a lot, but they always turn out soft and soggy from the oil.  I can never get that nice crisp outside layer like they do in the restaurants.  Now I succeeded!

Ok, for 4.5 oz of Great Value brand tater tots, the nutritional values are:  240 calories, 12g fat (3g polyunsaturated, 3g saturated and 6g monounsaturated), 0mg cholesterol, 495mg sodium, 615mg potassium, 30g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g protein.  6 Points Plus.

Enjoy your breakfast potatoes!  Over and out.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tuna Noodle Casserole With Alternative to Using Condensed Soup

Looks are deceiving...It is PACKED with flavor!
Tonight I made a family favorite, Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I made it a little different this time, though.  I didn't use any Cream of Mushroom Soup or Milk in the base, which saves a ton on calories and stuff.  I used the new recipe I found for Cream of "Something" Soup Mix (click to go to the recipe) instead of canned soup.  The result was it had way more flavor than canned soup.  So much so, that from now on when I make it I am going to leave out the fried onions I always put in my tuna noodle (you know the kind in a can from Durkee?)  The Cream of "Something" Soup Mix has dried onions in it, and I think that would be plenty enough in the onion department.  No need to pack on more pounds when you don't need to!  So if you think you see some Durkee fried onions in the pic, you do.  But we are going to forget about those.
Also, I normally love peas in my tuna noodle.  But I don't add them in to the whole thing because not everyone in my family likes them.  I just heat some up and leave them on the side for those who want to add them in.  But tonight I didn't have any peas in my cupboard.  It was just fine without them, though.

My family always loved my "old" recipe for tuna noodle, but I always had leftovers that I threw out.  Tonight, every bit of it was eaten up. 

And the best change of all in this new recipe?  THERE IS NO BAKING!!!!  Nope, you cook the soup and the noodles and mix it all together and it's done!  A whole casserole in about 15 minutes.  You CANNOT beat that for a second!

Here's the easiest and most flavorful tuna noodle casserole you will ever have...

3 small cans tuna packed in water
1 C Cream of "Something" Soup Mix
3 3/4 C water
2 C shredded cheese.  (I used "pizza blend" that had a mixture of white and yellow cheese.  Use whatever flavor of shredded cheese you like the best.  The "pizza blend", though, I think is my favorite.)
1 16oz package of medium width egg noodles.  (For an even healthier version, use some whole wheat pasta noodles.)

1.  Get a large pot of water on to boil.  When it starts to boil, add noodles and set time according to the package directions.
2.  Put 1 C Cream of "Something" Soup Mix in a smaller pot with 3 3/4 C water and put over medium heat.  Stir occasionally while it comes up to a bubble and gets thick.
3.  Drain and flake the tuna in a large bowl.
4.  Measure out 2 C of shredded cheese and put in the bowl.
5.  When the noodles are done, drain them in a colander and then put them in the bowl.
6.  After it gets thick, dump the soup mixture into the bowl.
7.  Stir it all up and serve.

How incredibly easy is that?!?  The soup mix is pretty peppery, and there is plenty of salt from the bouillon, so you won't even need to add extra of those.

This recipe will serve 8 people with a 1 1/4 C serving.  The nutritional values are:
358 calories, 8.6g fat, 1g sat fat, 1g polyunsaturated fat, 2g monounsaturated fat, 98.8mg cholesterol, 869 mg sodium, 260mg potassium, 46.6g carbs, 2g fiber, 22.8g protein.  9 Points Plus.

This would also be great served with a nice crisp side salad.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe.  My family devoured it!
All the best,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How to Make Cream of "Something" Mix and Green Bean Chicken Casserole

First of all, what do you think of the new look of my blog?  I got rid of that nasty hover bar on the side of the page.  Please check to make sure everything is working for me, and if it's not can you please let me know?  Thanks!

I first saw this mix for Cream of "Something" on Pinterest here.  Many of the recipes I make for my family start with a large can of condensed something soup, but they are always so high in calories and everything that I either don't make them anymore or I don't have any when I do and watch everyone else eat my yummy stuff.

I usually use about 2/3 of a large 26 oz can of Cream of Mushroom soup, then I add tons of milk to thin it out.  Both of those together add up to LOTS of calories!!!  The base for a dish I used to make would carry about 3 times the number of calories per serving as this new mix I found.  Oh!  Also, it is way cheaper to make this mix than it is to buy cans of soup, so it's very economical.

Here's how to make Cream of "Something" Soup Mix.  If you use the quantities I give you, it will just fill up a pint mason jar.  I taped the recipe to the jar so I wouldn't have to hunt for it when I run out.

2 c non-fat dried milk powder
1 1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c bouillon (you can use any kind you want.  If you buy the cubes, you can pulverize them in the food processor or blender.  I used 1 jar of Wyler's chicken bouillon cubes.)
1/2 c dried minced onions
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp either parsley or thyme
2 tsp pepper

Mix it all together.  When you need it, to make a single serving you mix 1/3 c of the magic mix with 1 1/4 c of water.  Cook over a medium high heat until it thickens. 


When I tasted the soup all mixed up and cooked, it tasted way too peppery for me.  You can cut the amount of pepper in the recipe to 1 tsp if you want.  But once I got it in the final dish, it tasted perfect.  So it's your call.

Now here's a recipe to use it in (that's right...a double bonus recipe day. lol)...

Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

2/3 c Cream of "Something" Soup Mix
2 1/2 c water
4 cans green beans
24 oz chicken, cooked, cubed into bite sized pieces
6 oz fried onions (like French's)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F
2.  Mix water and soup mix together into a small pot and cook over medium heat until thickened.
3.  Drain green beans.
4.  Mix cooked soup, cooked chicken pieces, green beans and fried onions together in a bowl until it's well mixed.
5.  Pour into a casserole pan or a 9x13 cake pan that has been lightly sprayed with pan spray.
6.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until everything is heated through and soup is bubbly.

If it's a little too thick, you can always add a little bit of milk to thin it out a little.
This has always been a favorite in my house.  I've been making it for many, many years.  One day at the holidays I was thinking, why do we only have green bean casserole at Thanksgiving?  So I added chicken to the recipe and made it a regular dinner in our rotating menu.

When I made it with the Cream of "Something" Soup Mix, nobody hesitated for one second and ate it up like crazy.  They all loved it just as much.  Yes, it tasted a little bit different, but it was better in my opinion.  Because it's made with cornstarch, it is not a solid color like regular cream soup.  It is more translucent.  It's also not as thick, but that's just me taking out all those calories! :)

Here are the nutritional stats for 1/6 of casserole:  420 calories, 14g fat, 96mg cholesterol, 1643mg sodium, 292.7mg potassium, 27g carbs, 4.7g fiber, 39.5g protein.  9 Points Plus.

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does!!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crescent Roll Veggie "Pizza"

Here is a recipe that is good for parties, as a snack or a light lunch.  The veggies are not cooked, so it is a cold pizza, if you want to call it that.  It is very tasty, whatever it is!

You will need:

1 refrigerated tube of crescent rolls
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
2 good size cloves of garlic
2.5 oz each chopped broccoli and carrots
1 cup shredded cheese

You'll want the cream cheese to be room temperature for easier mixing and spreading, so take it out well in advance of making this recipe.  The crescent rolls, on the other hand, need to be nice and cold right out of the fridge so they don't stretch and lose their shape. 

You might want to spray your baking sheet very lightly with cooking spray.  I used a piece of parchment paper to make sure the rolls didn't stick.


1.  Preheat oven to 375F.
2.  Open the tube of crescent rolls and don't tear apart the triangles.  Pull them apart at the half way line.  Then unroll the rolls carefully so they lay flat on the pan.  Pinch together the seams.  Unroll the other half and lay it next to the first half and pinch those seams, too, so that it makes a rectangle of flat dough on the pan.
3.  Bake for about 12-13 minutes or until it starts to turn golden.
4.  While that is baking, prepare the garlic.  If you have a garlic press, you are so lucky!  (I want one.)  I don't have one, so I had to mince my garlic and then mash it with a fork on a plate.  You'll want to mash the garlic really well so the oils are released.  That way it will add tons of flavor.
5.  Mix the mashed garlic into the cream cheese until smooth and well incorporated.
6.  When the dough is cooked and cooled, spread the cream cheese very carefully (the top will flake off a bit) over the dough.
7.  Either chop the vegetables with a knife, or, for easier preparation, put them in a food processor (like my most favorite tool ever, the Ninja Express Chop.) and chop it up really good. 
8.  Sprinkle a layer each of the carrots and then the broccoli over the cream cheese spread.
9.  Top with shredded cheese.
10.  Cut into 8 pieces (or smaller if you are serving at a party or something.)

Nutritional stats:
181.6 calories, 10.6g fat, 6g sat fat, 1g polyunsaturated fat, 2.5g monounsaturated fat, 17.5mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 196mg potassium, 14.4g carbs, .5g fiber and 7.3g protein.  I'm not sure, but I think that the carrots and broccoli are "free" foods in WW, so I calculated the Points Plus at 5.

It would also taste really good with some chopped green onions mixed into the cream cheese with the garlic.  (!  I have to try that next time!)  Two pieces would be a nice lunch.  One piece is a good snack.

Hope you enjoy your veggie pizza!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Updated to Show Points Plus and Sorry for the Reposts

Some of my old posts posted again, so sorry for the repeat information.  But guess what I did!   
I calculated my previous recipe posts to show their Points Plus values!!! 
I don't follow the Weight Watchers plan, and I don't really understand their Points Plus system.  But I know a lot of people do, so I thought it would be a good idea to do for those of you who follow Weight Watchers.

If you hover over the black bar on the right and find the "Labels" tab, you can search by Points Plus numbers and it should pull everything up with that label.  If it's not working, please let me know so I can take it up with blogger.


Lighter Version of Shepherd's Pie (with a Southwest twist)

I've never had Shepherd's Pie before.  Decided to give it a go when I found a recipe on dLife.  There are a lot of ingredients in this one, and it's more complicated than what I normally like to do, but I got Sara to help me through it step by step and we did a good job.  I got all of my ingredients out first.  I separated them into two groups:  one for the base and one for the topping.

Here's what you need for the base:
1 large onion (chopped)
3 medium cloves garlic (minced)
3 oz shredded carrots (or one average full size carrot)  I used my favorite kitchen tool, the Ninja Express Chop to make mine into tiny bits that were perfect for this.
6 oz mushrooms (chopped...used the Ninja for this too)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/3 C low sodium, fat free beef broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Cooking spray

For the topping you will need:

1 lb russet potato (peeled and cut into chunks)
3 Tbsp low fat milk
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 oz diced jalapenos.  (I used jarred jalapenos and chopped them up in the Ninja.  You can use fresh--just make sure to seed and de-rib it and don't touch your eyes before washing your hands.  Or, you can use a small can of diced jalapenos too.  I will use the hot canned jalapenos next time for ease and extra heat.)
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro (minced)
2 Tbsp green onions (chopped)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

The ingredients list is a little overwhelming, I know, but if you just break it down step by step instead of looking at the whole big picture it's not too bad.

Prepare the base:

1.  In a large non stick skillet, saute onion, garlic, carrots and mushrooms over medium heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are wilted (about 6 minutes)

2.  Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly until well browned.  Drain off any excess fat.
3.  Add oregano, thyme, cumin and pepper.
4.  Sprinkle flour over the beef and stir.
5.  Add beef broth and tomato paste.  Stir until well combined.

Prepare the dish:

6.  Line a 2 quart casserole dish (smaller around, but taller in height would probably work best) with aluminum foil so that it can completely encase the casserole.  I have no idea what the purpose of that is, but I did it anyways.  Lightly spray the inside of the foil with cooking spray.
7.  Transfer the beef to the prepared casserole dish.  Set aside.

Prepare the topping:

8.   Put the potatoes in boiling water and let them cook until they are fork tender.  Drain.  Put potatoes back in pot or in a bowl.

9.  Mash the potatoes, add milk so they get fluffy.  If 3 Tbsp is not enough, add a little more.
10.  Stir in salt (optional), jalapeno, cilantro, and green onions.
11.  Spoon potatoes over beef, careful not to push the potatoes down into the beef, but just spread on top.
12.  Sprinkle top with cheese and paprika.


13.  Close up the foil around the casserole.  Bake at 375F for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

The original direction said that it may bubble over and a sheet of aluminum foil under the casserole is a good idea.  My casserole was completely closed in so I didn't have that problem, but it's something you may want to consider.

So, you see, if you break it down into 4 sections--base, topping, preparing the dish and baking--it goes pretty smoothly.  And I just put the ingredients away right after I added them so that my space was cleaned up and decluttered as I went along.

I think it would be better with more potatoes, but then it wouldn't be lighter, would it?  The taste was fabulous.  The seasonings were just right and the jalapenos and cilantro gave it just a little Southwest flare.  Every one, husband and meat-eating kids, loved it.  It reminded me of a cross between chili and beef stew.  It was a very interesting and different flavor for me, but in a good way.  Even though it was a little more involved to make, I'm sure I will make this again (just not an every week thing!).  Fortunately, my vegetarian child was not home that evening and so I didn't have to attempt to make a vegetarian version for her.  That would be a total pain in my butt to make 2 complete casseroles that are this involved.  Next time we have it, if she's home, she'll be getting Morningstar Farms BBQ Riblets or something like that.  Unless I'm in a completely manic mood that day and decide to tackle it, but I won't promise anything!

It's a little high in calories, but it's not beyond my limits.  Here are the stats (serves 4):  393 calories, 16g fat, 5.8g saturated fat, 1.2g polyunsaturated fat, 1.8g monounsaturated fat, 78.7mg cholesterol, 738mg potassium, 720mg potassium, 34g carbs, 3.9g fiber, and a whopping 28g protein. (10 Points Plus)

Pick a day when you're not in a rush and give this one a go.  Serve it with a nice little salad or some other vegetable on the side, and it will be a winner for sure.

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Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin (no lie...cheesy potato impostor)

I saw this recipe on Pinterest this morning (check me out here and look on my "Recipes That Sound Really Good" board), and it sounded so good I made it tonight.  I read the reviews and everyone raved about it.  I was a little skeptical, because I can't imagine a squash being a suitable replacement for my beloved and missed potatoes.  But I gave it a go.

Here's what you need:

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced (I used my amazing Ninja Express Chop to dice them up)  And you may want to use just 1/2 an onion.  I used half and the onion flavor still really came through.  It may be too strong for some people if you use a whole onion.
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 C light sour cream
1 1/2 C cheddar cheese

The first challenge is to cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise.  This is a very difficult thing to do.  I really struggled with it.  Just use a very big knife, stick the knife in a little at a time all the way around until you can split it open.

1.  Just like you do a pumpkin, use a spoon and some elbow grease to clean out the seeds and stringy stuff from the middle of the squash.
Here's what it looks like before (left) and after (right) cleaning out the seeds and stringy stuff.

Alternate Method to Cutting the Squash

1.  Poke holes all over the squash.  You might use a grill fork or something large like that.
2.  Put whole squash in about 1/2" water in a pan.
3.  Heat oven to 375F and cook for about 30 minutes.
4.  VERY carefully...it will be HOT...slice your squash open, clean out the seeds.
5.  Shred by scraping pulp (or whatever you call the main "meat" part of the squash) and pulling it up so it looks like strands of pasta.

2.  Put about 1/2" of water in a pan and lay the squash halves face down.
3.  Heat oven to 375F and cook for about 30 minutes.  You know it's done when you poke it with a fork and the outer skin is soft and pokes easily.
4.  In a pan, heat up the oil and put in onions.

5.  Put in red pepper flakes, thyme and some salt and pepper.  Stir it all up and cook onions until they are golden.

6.  After squash has cooked, remove the "spaghetti" from the center and put it in a bowl.

7.  Add onions to the squash and mix well.  I used a rubber scraper to make sure to get all that yummy goodness out of the pan and into the bowl.
8.  Add light sour cream and half the cheese (3/4 C) and mix it up well.

9.  Spray an 8" or 9" baking dish with pan spray.
10.  Put spaghetti squash mixture in pan.  Top with remaining cheese.
11.  Cook at 375F for 15-20 minutes, until top is golden.
This squash did not taste like squash to me at all.  I have finally found a way that I will love to eat spaghetti squash.  The pepper flakes give it just an undertone of kick.  I only used about 1/2 of an onion, and the onion flavor really came through.  It's very cheesy!  Yea for cheese! :)  And, honest to goodness, this really is an excellent substitute for au gratin potatoes.  If I didn't cook it myself, I might not have known initially that I was eating squash.  Truly.  I think I am going to make this for my family's Thanksgiving Day buffet.  I can guarantee it will go over well.  And it will be nice to have an alternative to the carb-laden mashed potatoes, as much as I love them though I will have to pass this year.  There will be enough carbs with the piece of pie I am going to allow myself, so I need to watch my carbs elsewhere during the dinner.

Tonight I served this with Honey Pecan Chicken and steamed broccoli.  It was phenom if you ask me.  It was a well-rounded, incredibly healthy and very satisfying meal.  The Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin even passed muster with the kids and hubby.  I will for sure be serving this again in my house.  I always struggle to find healthy, tasty side dishes.  Now I've got a great one.

I figured the calories and carbs per serving to be 1/8 of the pan, which is (imo) a generous serving.  The numbers are:  153.8 calories, 10.5g fat, 5.5g saturated fat, .9g polyunsaturated fat, 1.2g monounsaturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 412.8mg sodium, 145.4mg potassium, ONLY 10g CARBS!, 1.6g fiber and 5.9g protein.  Are those great numbers or what?!? (4 Points Plus)

If you're looking for something healthy and delicious that can be as equally gratifying as potatoes without all those carbs, this is your answer.  And, I read some people like to make it more gourmet by using other cheeses like Gruyere. Some people add ham or bacon (but be sure to tack on those calories).  If you adjust this recipe and try a different ingredient or two, leave a comment here and let everyone know what you did and how it turned out.

Bon appetit!
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Say Cheeeeeeesecake! (healthier and portion controlled Recipe, Pics, Review)

omg, do you just love cheesecake???  I thought I'd never be able to have it again without gaining some pounds.  But, lucky for me, I found a "healthified" version that I made today.  How about cheesecake with only 10g carb?!?!  I am so excited to share this with you, in fact, that they are still in the refrigerator cooling.  My son, Matthew, and I shared one while it was still warm and then put the rest back in to chill.

I found this recipe, like so many of my others, on dLife.  I altered it a bit, and I think my version is very good.  Here's what you will need to make 18 mini cheesecakes:

Cupcake liners or cooking spray
18 Nilla Wafers (I did not use Fat Free...they were out.  But if you wanted to save a calorie or two that would be an option for you.)
16 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 C Sugar
1/2 C Granulated Stevia
1 1/2 Tbsp White Flour
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Whole Egg
1 Egg White
2 C Mixed Berry Frozen Fruit, thawed, chopped up

Unlike "real" cheesecake, these are so simple to make!  You will be amazed at how fast you can whip these up.

Preheat oven to 325F

1.  Either line muffin tins with cupcake papers or spray with cooking spray.
2.  Place 1 Nilla wafer in the bottom of each cup.
3.  Beat the cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
4.  Add in sugar, Stevia, flour and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth.
5.  Add in egg and egg white.  Beat on low just until combined well.
6.  Add 1 dollop of mixture (I measured a "dollop" to be about 1/8 C...it's a well-rounded larger spoonful...the tablespoon, but not the measuring kind of tablespoon.  Just a regular tablespoon.)
7.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes until set.
8.  Chop up fruit after it has thawed to make it easier to spoon out just 1 tsp.

9.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes.  Cover.  Place in refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.

10.  When ready to serve, remove from pan and add 1 tsp (the actual measuring kind of teaspoon this time) of chopped up fruit onto the top of each cheesecake.  Serve and enjoy!

Matthew and I couldn't resist taking a taste before they were chilled because the kitchen smelled so good after they baked for 20 minutes.  I let them cool only about 10 minutes and got one ready.  I took a taste first.  Heaven!!!  It might not be as totally sweet as cheesecake, but it is sweet enough, especially with the fruit on top, to satisfy any craving.  Rich and delicious.  These would be so awesome to serve as dessert for dinner guests.  And so perfect, too, because they are very simple and quick to make.  Matthew loved it.  A few minutes later he asked me again, "How much longer until they're ready?"  After two bites he is totally ready for more!  I have to admit, I am too!

Here are the stats on 1 mini cheesecake:

71.4 calories, .9g fat, .25g saturated fat, 15.3mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium (blame the cream cheese for all the sodium in this one), 20mg potassium, just 10g carb!!!, and 4.4g protein.  (2 Points Plus) How about that?  And the really beautiful thing is that these cheesecakes are portion controlled, so try to just have one.  Take small bites and savor them slowly.

I highly recommend trying these delicious and easy to make mini cheesecakes.  I think you will love them.  Feel free to leave a comment here or you can always drop me a line at happyfairylove@live.com.

Sweet Treats!
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Teriyaki Cashew Chicken

This dinner is slightly higher in calories and carbs than I like to promote, but as a quasi-treat, you can't beat it.  Just be careful on calories and carbs the rest of the day and you'll be fine.

Who wouldn't want to have this masterpiece for dinner???

O M G  it is sooooo good!  My husband and kids just love this stuff!  And it's super easy, too, because I use a Kikkoman teriyaki sauce.  I'll tell you later in the post how to make home made teriyaki sauce if you prefer to do that.  It's pretty dang easy too.

This is what I used:
1 bag broccoli slaw
Instant white rice
1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small can cashew halves/pieces
Sesame seeds
Kikkoman Garlic & Green Onion Teriyaki Sauce
I looked for it at my Super Wal-Mart, and they didn't carry it when I looked.  My neighborhood Fry's carries it, but they just raised the price by 2 freakin' dollars!  I'm going to have to start using my home made teriyaki sauce to save some money.  Both are equally as good, so either way will work.

To start, I bought a bag of Broccoli Slaw from the produce department.  I put it in a bowl with a few Tablespoons of water, covered it and put it in the microwave for 12 minutes.  (Cooking time may vary depending on your microwave.)  While that is cooking...

I got water boiling for instant rice.  I used white, but brown is better for you.  Just follow the instructions on the box.

Then I cooked about 1.5-2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts in a little bit of canola oil over medium high heat.  I cut the breasts into thirds so it would cook faster and more even.  After it cooked I put the chicken on a cutting board and cut it up into bite sized pieces.

I bought a small can of cashew halves and pieces...just a generic brand from Wal Mart for $2.  Cashews can be expensive, so just know you don't need a gourmet brand.  I chopped the cashews up for about 2 seconds in my Ninja Express Chop and put them in a cake pan.  I also poured about 3 Tbsp of sesame seeds onto the pan.  I put the pan in the oven at 375F for about 5-7 minutes.

Drain the pan the chicken cooked in, return it to a medium heat, and put the chicken back in.  I pour almost the whole bottle of sauce into the pan with the chicken.  Stir to coat, and get it warmed back up.  Stir in the nuts and seeds.

If you want to get very accurate about weighing and measuring your portions, I weighed out 4 oz of plain, cooked chicken.  I put it in a separate little saucepan and measured 3 Tbsp of sauce and 1/4 cup of nuts.  That way, my serving was exactly proportioned the way I calculated.  But since my family doesn't exactly weigh and measure their food, I just put the sauce and the rest of the nuts and seeds right in the pan.

Measure out 1/2 C of cooked broccoli slaw and make a ring of around the edge of the plate.  Measure out 1/2 C rice and place in the middle of the plate.  Put the teriyaki chicken on top of the rice.  Ta-da!  You have a gorgeous meal, and it was pretty easy.

If you want to make home made teriyaki sauce, the recipe is as follows:
2 C chicken broth
1 C low sodium soy sauce
2/3 C brown sugar
3 Tbsp vinegar
4 minced garlic cloves
1 sliced green onion
3 Tbsp corn starch

Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  In a small bowl mix 2 Tbsp water with 3 Tbsp corn starch.  Pour corn starch into boiling sauce and stir until it thickens.

Very easy!

Here are the nutritional values for 4 oz of chicken, 3 Tbsp Kikkoman teriyaki sauce, 1/2 C white rice, 1/4 C cashews and 1/2 C broccoli slaw:

621.5 calories, 19.5g fat, 2.9g sat fat, 96mg cholesterol, 1081.5mg sodium, 65.5g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 49g protein. (16 Points Plus)

Yes, again I realize that it's a little higher in carbs and calories.  But like I said, if you are careful the rest of the day you will be fine.  It truly is absolutely delicious.  My family was saying constantly throughout dinner, "This is so good!"  and my hubby kept saying, "Great dinner, honey!"


P.S.  You can also do it with peanuts or, like I did tonight, a combination of cashews and peanuts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Beef and Barley

It's been quite a while since I've posted anything new.  I have to make an admission.  I fell hard off the wagon.  It all started last summer when I went from a manic high, to a very low depression.  I started eating for comfort.  You know, that 15 minute euphoric high, followed by nothing but guilt.  It's such a great cycle, in fact, that I repeated it daily. :(  Truthfully, I didn't know how to make the roller coaster stop and let me off.  Then the holidays came.  I ate anything and everything.  And then some more.  What did all this binging get me?  Set back by 30 lbs.  Yes, that is the correct number and not a typo.  I stopped healthy eating for 6+ months and gained on average 1 lb a week.  Sad, isn't it?  All that hard but rewarding work I did in the beginning of the year just shoved aside.  To my defense, living with Bipolar disorder is a very difficult and tricky thing.  It is so very hard to adjust to a new normal when the highs suddenly in the blink of an eye become the lowest of lows.  Where does that leave me?  Right here.  Today.  Today I get back on the wagon and get back to my live-it.

Today's dinner was something I never tried before.  Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.  I looked up some recipes, compared the similarities and noted the differences.  Then I made some changes to my own liking.  The biggest change was that instead of rice in the stuffing I used pearled barley.  Pearled barley is a new find for me, and I really love it.  I think it is more filling than rice.

Here are the ingredients:

- 12-14 Cabbage leaves (It took me 2 heads of cabbage to get 14 decent sized leaves that weren't ripped.)

- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 C uncooked pearled barley
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped, or I just used 2 Tbsp dried onions
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp dried parsley

- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (mine were flavored with basil, oregano and garlic)
- 3 Tbsp Stevia (or sugar)
- 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 1/2 C water
- 2 - 3 Tbsp Shredded Parmesan

1.  Put 1/2 C barley and 1 1/4 C water in a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, simmer for about 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
2.  Cook ground beef.  Try to break up large pieces into small pieces as much as possible.
3.  To the beef add onions, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4.  Prepare the cabbage leaves.

This part is not difficult, but is the trickiest to explain.  I'll do my best.  Cut out the core of the cabbage.

To remove the leaves, do not try to remove by peeling back the thinnest part of the leaf.  Instead, use your thumb to press up on the rib of the leaf to get it loose.  If your cabbage is very compact and you are having a hard time getting the leaves off (you want them to be in 1 piece without tears as much as possible) then here's what you do:  Get a pot of water and bring it to steaming.  Place the head of cabbage in the water for 1 to 2 minutes.  You should have an easy time pressing up on the ribs for 2 or 3 layers and get those leaves off easily.  When it starts to get difficult again, put it in the water for another minute or 2 and then take off more leaves.  Also what I did was sliced a little off the ribs of each of the leaves so they're not so thick.

Ok, now you need to boil the leaves once they are separated.  Bring the pot of water to a boil, place a few leaves in at a time, or as many as your pot will comfortably fit.  Boil them for about 4 minutes.  Take out and drain.  Now your leaves are ready.

5.  Once the barley is cooked, and the beef is cooled a little, put them in a bowl and mix them together.  This is where I added in the parsley.
6.  Mix in the egg and milk.
7.  Lay out a leaf.  Put a couple spoonfuls of beef and barley into the center of the cabbage leaf.

Fold in the sides.

Roll up.  Place seam side down in a 9x13 pan.  Repeat for all the leaves.

Now you make the sauce, and it couldn't be easier.
8.  Mix all the ingredients of the sauce except the cheese together in a bowl.  (Told you it was easy)
9.  Poor sauce on top of cabbage rolls.  Top with parmesan.
10.  Bake in 350 F oven for 45 minutes.

Let me know how you like it.  You can serve it with salad, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and some people like it with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.  Just be careful with the starches...they add a lot of calories.  I made mine with some delicious mashed potatoes.  First, I sauteed 1/2 a thinly sliced onion in olive oil.  Then I added the water, milk and butter, along with some garlic powder and parsley flakes.  Sooooo tasty!  I really wanted more of those, but *heavy sigh* too many calories for me.

It's a little difficult for me to do the nutritional information because I don't know what percentage of fat is in the ground beef you are going to use.  The numbers here are based on 80% lean.  So if yours has less fat, your calories will be lower than I have here.

Nutritional Info for 2 cabbage rolls:
353.5 calories, 14.8g fat, .38g sat fat, 31.7mg cholesterol, 364mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 28.8g carbs, 4.9g fiber, 26.7g protein. (9 Points Plus)

I hope you enjoy your cabbage rolls!