Archive for May, 2011


UPDATED: See Panzanella recipe below!

This meal started with leftover bread and tuna on sale.  Seafood out here is generally fairly pricey compared to what I used to be able to get back in NJ.  As a result, when good seafood is on sale I snatch it up.  This week tuna fillets were on sale for the same price as tilapia (score!).  We also had leftover bread from a meal earlier this week (B made a vegetable, shrimp, and fennel soup and we used the bread to get all the brothy goodness).  I had seen panzanella on a number of cooking shows and on various blogs and wanted to give it a shot.  So this is how I started: panzanella and tuna.  B and I decided we wanted an aioli so we started to do some research.  We came across a roasted red pepper one and, luckily, we had a leftover red pepper from B’s aforementioned soup. We were sold.  The last part of the meal came as a last-minute addition.  I had also bought a lot of asparagus (because it was on sale) for B’s soup (which he didn’t use it in) and for a meal this week.  We then decided to add this to our meal.  I’ve separated into the three key pieces that actually required assembling.  For the tuna I just seasoned with salt and pepper and seared it on the grill for about 4 minutes on each side, until it was cooked but raw in the middle.

8 servings, 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

UPDATE: I made this again and instead of tossing the garlic and bread with 1/4 C of olive oil I lightly sprayed cooking spray before popping them into the oven.  This reduced the dish to 5 Points Plus per serving.

5 cups day old Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 cup sliced red onion
10-15 basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup cucumber, quartered
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces (approximately 8 oz. for what I used)

For Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl, toss bread with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Lay bread on a baking sheet, and toast in the preheated oven until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes; allow to cool slightly.

While the bread is in the oven, make the vinaigrette by whisking together 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add bread to bowl with vegetables.  Gently toss together the bread, tomatoes, onion, basil, cucumber, and mozzarella cheese. Toss with the vinaigrette and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
Approximately 8 servings, 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving


3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper, roasted (approximately 1/2 C if you are not roasting your own pepper)
1/3 C mayonnaise (I had to use Miracle Whip because it is all we had.  A lower fat mayonnaise would likely influence the points plus per serving)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add garlic and chop until the garlic is minced.  Add roasted red pepper and mix until almost smooth.  Blend in mayonnaise.  Once that is blended, mix in olive oil.  Add salt and pepper.  Transfer aioli to another bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator.

Garlic White Wine Asparagus
4 servings, 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

2 tbsp Smart Balance light
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 C white wine
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot boil water.  Add asparagus and cook.  Blanche the asparagus in an ice water bath.  In a pan, add butter, lemon zest, garlic, and lemon juice, be careful to make sure the garlic does not burn.  Add asparagus and white wine.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes until flavors are well absorbed by the asparagus.

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I’ve been craving smoothies.  Its spring and its (rarely) sunny and warm here in beautiful Steelers Nation.  Most places I know that sell smoothies make them incredibly unhealthy with lots of sugar, ice cream, or full fat yogurt.  I decided I’d satisfy my craving by making a similar one at home.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Greek Yogurt
1 serving, 3 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

5-6 ice cubes (or crushed ice)
6 large strawberries quartered
1 large banana
1/2 C Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
2 tsp Splenda (or another no calorie sweetener)

In a blender (or in a Cuisinart, since my blender is non-functional) add ice.  Run until ice is transformed into a slushy mixture.  Add strawberries and bananas.  Run until fruit is smooth.  Add yogurt and Splenda.  Again, run until smooth.  Serve immediately.

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This week was my 16th week on the Weight Watchers program. Understandably, leading up to my meeting this week I was feeling very “eh” about almost all food in our fridge/freezer.  I was just bored.  I was craving greasy, decadent, and delicious comfort food (due to the Weight Watchers element and the fact our wedding videographer sent us our “video” which was more tree and the back of my second cousin’s head than our wedding).  To satisfy these craving we decided to have a grill night where we made hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

Now I’ve been struggling with my weight loss the past few weeks (probably due to the fact that my mysterious illness still isn’t cured and I’ve been on a number of different varieties of prescription cocktails as a result) so I didn’t want to do too decadent.  I found a few “healthy” macaroni and cheese recipes that I decided to build on.  While at the grocery store picking up the makings for this “healthy” macaroni and cheese I decided that I wanted to supplement it with green beans, making it half-green bean casserole, half-macaroni and cheese.  Gross sounding, right?  Luckily, B went with my vision ( my prayer it was ok probably helped with the outcome, too).  It was not nearly as cheesy and gooey as the decadent, comfort food variety but it definitely helped satisfy the craving for that.  Honestly, this was also much better reheated the next day (and later in the week).  I’ve also seen another variety around the internet that used spinach in their macaroni and cheese.  That being said, other vegetables my be able to be substituted into this mixture.  The big thing you will need to be aware of is how watery that vegetable might make the mac and cheese.

Enjoy!  This was built from the following sources: Weight Watcher’s Recipe, All Recipes.com’s RecipeTaste of Home’s Recipe, and Fitness Magazine’s Recipe.

Green Bean Macaroni and Cheese
6 Servings, 5 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving

1/4 C white onion, chopped
6 oz Fage 0% nonfat Greek yogurt (could probably use another non-fat Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 C frozen cooked green beans
1 1/4 C reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 C fat free cottage cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 cups cooked elbow macaroni pasta
2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  In a pot of boiling water, prepare the elbow macaroni.  In a food processor, add onions and chop until they are finely chopped.  Add Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, 3/4 C of the shredded cheddar cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and mix until smooth.  Pour the cheese mixture into a large bowl on top of cooked elbow macaroni and green beans.  Mix well. Transfer into a 2-quart baking dish that has been well coated with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, mix together panko, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese.  Top the green bean and pasta mixture with remaining 1/2 C cheddar cheese and breadcrumb mixture.  Bake covered from 35-40 minutes.  Uncover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

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After Easter I made a patch of pesto with our leftover basil that I’ve been trying to find a way to use.  Laying in bed last night I had a “EUREKA” moment on how to use it.  Well, I decided that I was just going to use it.  I have to give credit to B for coming up with the idea to marinate the shrimp in a lemon garlic sauce to add a little bit of a citrus flavor to the dish.

B called this one of our “restaurant quality” dishes.  I can’t disagree.  This is nice especially for summer because of the pesto.  Also, it wasn’t overly pesto-y, which is something that B and I both look for in our pesto dishes.  Enjoy!

Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta
Makes 6 servings, 8 PointsPlus per serving

1 cup basil, packed
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Shrimp and Marinade
2 1/2 oz. shrimp (20 shrimp in our case)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, minced (or about 1 tbsp pre-packaged minced garlic)
1/4 tsp olive oil (drizzled)

Other ingredients
12 oz. farfalle pasta (1 box)
5 stem tomatoes

(1) For pesto: Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 3 tbsp of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

(2) For shrimp marinade: Take remaining 3 cloves of garlic and mince.  Add 1/4 tsp olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest with shrimp.  Mix and cover.  Let sit in fridge.

(3) To roast tomatoes: Preheat oven to 300 F.  Cut tomatoes into approx. 1/2″ slices.  On a foil lined baking sheet, spray cooking spray and lay out tomatoes.  Spray again and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to roast in the oven for 1-2 hours or until tomatoes look shriveled and are no longer juicy.

(4) We grilled the shrimp on skewers for about 2-3 minutes on each side.  The shrimp could also be sautéed on a stove top.  Add pesto, shrimp, and roasted tomatoes to the cooked pasta.  Mix well. Serve warm.

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Now that I’m starting to finally get back to closer to 100% health, have about 50% of my taste buds back, and having a bit more free time since I’ve been able to catch up on some work, I’ve been starting to plan out some recipes that I would like to try to make.

This is not one of them.

Yesterday was a end-of-the-year picnic for my department (I’m a Ph.D. student for the readers that aren’t my mom).  I had the brilliant idea to bring two things, my patented taco dip and some margarita cupcakes like the ones I made as a thank you to our neighbors (see below).  I learned (the hard way) that a) one should not go to happy hour and then bake and b) I am not nearly close to a good enough baker to add to a box cake mix with from scratch ingredients.  As a result, my creative juices just haven’t been flowing this weekend.

This recipe is adapted from Real Simple‘s website.  For the chicken, we used chicken tenders (which from our frozen aisle are like mini chicken breasts) instead of the chicken with skin on.  This came out a little dry but not bad.  For mine, without the chicken cooking on top, the beans and potatoes did get a little dry.  I had drastically reduced the oil called for in the recipe (from 6 tbsp to 1 tsp) so this might be part of the problem.  In the future I might look to another component other than the vegetable stock to remedy this.  Also, I still am not totally trusting the points value that comes out of the recipe builder.  Like I said a few weeks ago, I discovered that if one uses all 0 point vegetables and oil a number of points magically appear.  In this case, when I entered it for myself, I used 1 less lemon because the second lemon in our fridge was bad.  By adding another lemon into the recipe builder it added 1 PP to the total PP value.  The value I gave reflects the higher number to be on the safe side.

Pan-Roasted Chicken (Quorn) with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans and Potatoes
Makes 4 servings of the beans and potatoes
PointsPlus value per serving without Quorn or chicken: 5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus
PointsPlus value for 1 serving and  1 piece of Quorn: 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus
PointsPlus value for 1 serving and 3 oz. of chicken tenders (thawed, cleaned, and with no skin): 8 Weight Watchers PointsPlus

1 tsp olive oil (I did drizzle about a tbsp over the chicken since B is not on WW and I didn’t want the chicken to be dry)
2 lemons, thinly sliced and juiced
6 cloves of garlic
approx 1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
20 oz. Idaho potatoes (4 potatoes)
2/3 C vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried rosemary

(1) Preheat oven to 450 F.  Spray a dish or skillet with cooking spray.  Add lemon slices into a single layer at the bottom of the dish or skillet.

(2) In a large bowl, combine the juice of one lemon (be careful how to juice this because you will use the rind in the recipe, see above), vegetable stock, oil, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, basil, and rosemary.  Mix well.  Toss cut and cleaned green beans in the juice.  Using tongs, take the green beans out and add to a large dish or skillet.  Next, toss chopped potatoes in the liquid mixture and then move to the dish or skillet.  (NOT INCLUDED IN PP calculation) If cooking with chicken (or a soy substitute) toss this in liquid and then add on top of beans and potatoes with remaining liquid.

(3)  (IF COOKING WITH CHICKEN) Roast for 50 minutes.  Remove chicken from dish or skillet and cook for 10 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.  (IF COOKING WITH SOY MEAT SUBSTITUTE) Roast beans and potatoes for 40 minutes while marinating the soy substitute in the liquid.  Add soy meat substitute on top of beans and potatoes and roast for an addition 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Serve warm.

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