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Herb Goat Cheese and Shrimp Pasta

Approximately 5 servings, 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
6-7 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
16 large shrimp, deveined and detailed
5 cups cooked pasta
2 tbsp semi-soft crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add pasta and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, add oil and half of the garlic.  Let the garlic saute making sure to not let the garlic burn.  Add the basil, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, and white wine.  Muddle the herbs in the oil and wine.  Saute for approximately 2 minutes and add remaining garlic. Add tomatoes and saute on medium-high heat.  When  the tomatoes are softened add the shrimp cooking for approximately 5 minutes.

Drain pasta and add sauce to large pot.  Combine 2 tbsp goat cheese and mix well.  Serve in pasta bowls.

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Bad blogger!

So I have been away and sick as a dog for the past 2 weeks.  As a result, my creativity in the kitchen (and actual cooking) for the past three weeks has been the quality for the programming on the CW (minus How I Met Your Mother on syndication).  I just wanted to make sure I told my reader (hi mom!) that I will be back to cooking once I’m back up to 100%  I also wanted to point out my stellar dining experience while away.

We went away to Anaheim, CA last week.  B was participating in the American Chemical Society’s annual conference and I tagged along.  We also stopped by Disneyland a few times to check it out since we figured we would probably never make it over to the West coast (well, at least it was highly unlikely).  The first day we went to Disneyland we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and found out there was a restaurant in the ride. Yes, a restaurant in the ride.  Since we grew up going to Disney World only (which doesn’t have this feature) we both freaked out and thought that it was the coolest thing ever and had to participate.  Lo and behold, a few days later when we went back to Disneyland after the conference was over we made reservations at this restaurant called the “Blue Bayou”.  True to Disney form, the attention to detail in this place was phenomenal.  It was built to make you feel like you were at a dinner party at a backyard in a plantation in the bayou and that’s the feel you get.  This was the beginning of the “sick as a dog” phase so of what I was able to taste of my food I thought it was great.  B, who was able to taste his food, had the same response.  If we ever, by chance, go back to Disneyland we will definitely go to this restaurant again.

Also, we had In N’ Out burger for the first time.  Gotta say, the grilled cheese did not live up to the hype.  The burger, according to B, was all that us East Coasters have heard, and the Neapolitan shake was the most decadent thing I’ve had in a very long time.

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Updated: Now with reviews!

So I currently live in Pittsburgh.  If you haven’t noticed there’s something going down this weekend.  It has the entire city of Pittsburgh abuzz and with black and gold fever.  I’m more of a football fan in general and B is actually an Eagles fan so we enjoy the atmosphere of being in the city of a Superbowl team but we won’t have a his and her’s bottle of Jack Daniels available in case Big Ben and the rest of the Steelers fail to pull their weight.

We had already decided to make a number of little appetizers to enjoy throughout the game.  This was the list we came up with and the recipes (or sources) are included:

Skinny Baked Jalapeno Poppers (Adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes)
Serves 8 (2 poppers per serving), 1 Points Plus per serving (11 total)

8 jalapeno peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
3 oz fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup Reduced Fat mild cheddar cheese
1/3 cup egg beaters
1/8 cup scallions, sliced
1/3 cup Panko crumbs
1/8 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and membrane (Wear rubber gloves to make sure you don’t get the oil on your hands). Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and scallions in a medium bowl. Combine panko, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in another bowl.  Fill peppers with cheese filling. Dip peppers in egg beaters. Then place pepper in panko mixture, mixing the panko mixture after ever pepper is coated. Spray a baking pan with oil spray. I lined my pan with tin foil for easier cleanup. Lightly spray the peppers with a little more oil spray. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until golden and cheese oozes out. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Serve hot.

Review: This actually ended up coming out somewhat flavorless.  I would include some more seasoning into the cheese mixture or add more cheddar cheese.

Guacamole
Approximately 16 servings (2 tbsps per serving), 2 PointsPlus per serving

2 medium avocados, seeded and mashed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced (I used scallions this time since we had some leftover from the poppers)
1/4 cup jalapenos, diced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about a half a lime)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper

Cut the avocados in half and remove meat from the avocado.  Mash with a fork or masher.  Add tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice and mix well.  Add garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix well.   Add more seasonings to taste.

Review: This is my patented guacamole recipe.  Therefore, it was and will continue to be awesome.

Veggies with  ranch dip
Time considerations led us to take the easy way.  16 oz. Fat free Sour Cream and 1 packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dip (makes 16 servings (2 tbsps per serving) that are 1 PointsPlus per serving)

Review: Easiest thing I made.  Just mix and serve.  I’m going to start looking for a new homemade ranch recipe for the future though because this feels like cheating!

Buffalo Shrimp
(we had 24 servings, 1 PointsPlus per serving)
This is a recipe B found and wanted to make.  It comes from Stephanie Cooks.

Review: This was, by far, the best thing we made.  I was amazed with how tasty it was.  We baked it with the panko mixture and then tossed in a large bag to get well coated.  The panko didn’t get soggy and it still had a nice crunch to it.  B also made a homemade blue cheese dip so the tanginess of the dip with the spiciness of the shrimp were great!  We’re probably going to have the leftovers over rice for dinner tonight (Day after the superbowl).

Pizza Bites
Got this one from Annie’s Eats.  The biggest changes we made was we cooked each separately on a cookie sheet instead of in a pan together and we cut back on the oil and cheese

Review: Frankly, I was disappointed with this recipe.  I’ve made some other dips from this website with a few changes (jalapeno popper dip and spinach and artichoke dip) and they were fantastic.  This recipe ended up being somewhat doughy and flavorless.  We made half with just cheese and half with pepperoni.  In both, you tasted very little of the cheese and pepperoni.  B and I decided that if we made it in the future, we’ll increase the amount that goes in the bites or we’ll make “calzone” bites by adding some ricotta cheese into the middle.

Large Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundaes
11 servings (large cookies), 7 PointsPlus per serving

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 cup Splenda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.  Using plastic wrap, roll dough into a loaf.  Refrigerate to let the dough harden.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Cut loaf into 24 large chocolate chip cookies.

Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and whatever other toppings you would like.

Review:  This, unfortunately, was also a bit of a bust.  This was my first attempt to make “healthier” chocolate chip cookies by replacing butter with applesauce and sugar with splenda.  The cookies ended up tasting alright but the texture was just very odd.  They were very chewy and then tough on the bottom where it was touching the pan.  The cookies actually stuck to the pan (which was a first for me for chocolate chip cookies) and I had to pry them off.  Oh well, live and learn.

Have a great Superbowl Sunday!

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This week, after at least a month of telling B “I think I’m going to join Weight Watchers” after hearing about others success I finally pulled my butt into action and did so.  Since I’ve entered grad school I’ve put on an embarrassing amount of weight.  I was able to lose about half of it prior to our wedding last June but I have been struggling to keep it off and take more off since then.  My goal is to get back to my weight from my college  graduation (about 25 lbs from right now).  The point of this diatribe is to frame the recipes coming in the future.  For the past couple days I’ve been coming up with various recipes while being very conscious of the Points Plus value for the meal.  For example, earlier this week we made tilapia and roasted veggie dish (very simple so I didn’t think it warranted an entry since it was just salt, pepper, and lemon on the tilapia, and salt, pepper, and thyme on the veggies).

Taking a cue from this effort we decided to make a Weight Watchers friendly pizza. For our wedding we got a pizza stone and we’ve been talking for some time about using it. We decided to go for more of a tomato pie flare to the pizza in order to not ridiculously increase the points by adding cheese (holding back on the cheese makes me shed a tear or two by the way).  We wanted to make our own pizza sauce since we’re purists (given where we grew up) and most pizza sauces and pizza sauce recipes are too sweet for our tastes.

Like I said in my first post, I would share both the good, the bad and the ugly.  This was definitely an example of the ugly.  Everything was fine and dandy with the pizza and then we tried to move the pizza on to the pizza stone.  Since we’re no pizzeria we didn’t have one of those wooden things to move the pizza.  Try as we might we just mangled the pizza beyond repair.  It became a calzone/pizza hybrid to salvage what we had.  I would recommend having a good strategy to get the pizza into and out of the oven.  Good luck to you!

Tomato Pizza Pie (4 servings)
According to the eTools Recipe builder it is 28 WW PointsPlus (total), 7 PointsPlus per serving

6-8 plum tomatoes, whole (approximately 5 cups)
5 tbsp basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 oz. Mozzarella cheese (fat free), shredded
10 oz frozen/pre-made pizza crust dough

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Carefully put tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds.  Retrieve them with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool.  When cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to remove the core end of the tomato and peel away the skin.  Cut tomatoes lengthwise and seed tomatoes.  Coarsely chop tomatoes by hand or food processor and put into a sauce pan, adding 5 tbsp basil and 2 tbsp minced garlic to the pan as well.  Simmer  sauce for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. For smoother consistency use a food processor until the desired consistency is achieved. (Sauce can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks or frozen).

(Excuse my dirty stove top, it was a rough week)

Lay out pizza dough on pizza stone.  Spread out sauce, cheese, and basil evenly over pizza dough.  Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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