Monday, November 29, 2010

Mom's Chocolate Fudge

Mom's Chocolate Fudge
Servings: About 40 pieces

5 cups (one jar) Marshmallow Fluff
1/4 c. (half of one stick) butter
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. English walnuts, chopped

Line a 9x9 baking dish with aluminium foil, leaving some of the foil hanging over the edges. Spray foil-lined pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the marshmallow fluff, butter, evaporated milk and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture boils (make sure not to mistake air bubbles for a boil), boil slowly for 5 minutes, or until mixture reaches soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat and add vanilla, chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Let cool overnight, then remove from pan by pulling out the foil and cut into pieces.

NOTES: This recipe is a holiday tradition in my family. My mom must make a dozen batches of this a year, but I only make it occasionally. It's especially well-suited to modification based on your preference - leave out the nuts, add chopped, dried fruit like cherries or raisins, add miniature marshmallows or cookie bits - it's completely up to you. This fudge stores well so long as it's in an airtight container. It makes an excellent gift and is great for holiday gatherings.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 0 per serving

1 (4 lb) sugar or pie pumpkin
Cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half through its “equator” (that is, not its stem) and scoop out any seeds and fibrous membranes.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray; set pumpkin halves cut-side down on it. Stick a garlic clove under each half. Bake until pumpkin is soft and tender, about 1 hour. Cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Scoop soft flesh from shell and into a large blender or food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add garlic cloves as well as 2 cups of broth. Process or blend until smooth, scraping down inside of canister as necessary.

Pour purée into a large saucepan; stir in remaining broth, sage, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trout with Rosemary, Lemon and Garlic

Trout with Rosemary, Lemon and Garlic
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

4 trout fillets, with or without skin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp.
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Prepare a baking or roasting pan by lining it with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat broiler.

Mix together all remaining ingredients except fish into a well-blended paste.

Place fish skin-side down (if it has skin) on baking sheet, then spread seasoning over flesh. Broil fish at second rack away from heat for 5 minutes or less, just enough to sear flesh but not burn herbs.

Lower fish to 3rd or 4th rack and lower oven heat to 325 degrees. Bake for 10 additional minutes, or until fish is cooked through in the thickest portion.

NOTES: The mixture applied to the fish keeps the flesh very moist, and the combination of rosemary, lemon and garlic is one of my favorites. The best part of this dish, though, is how easy it is - just mix the topping, slather it on the fish, and you're pretty much done. We serve this with some home-made tartar sauce.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grandma Todd's No-Bake Cookies

Grandma Todd's No-Bake Cookies
Servings: about 24 cookies

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. oats

Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, milk and cocoa together. Stirring constantly, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full, steady boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Pour the hot cocoa mixture over the oats and stir to combine. Using a tablespoon, drop the cookies onto a sheet of waxed paper. Place another sheet of waxed paper gently over the top of the cookies, and let sit out overnight to harden.

NOTES: This is my all-time favorite cookie recipe. It's sort of temperamental - if you don't get the mixture to a full boil for one minute, it throws the whole thing off. I've had these turn out where they don't harden at all, and also where they're hard as rocks. When they're right though - there isn't a better cookie anywhere.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies
Servings: about 20 cookies
Weight Watchers Points: 1.5 per cookie

1 1/4 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 1/2 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. white sugar (for rolling cookies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, blend flour, baking soda and spices together and set aside.
In another bowl, cream together butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg until well mixed. Then add the molasses and mix to combine.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix to combine, then stir in the crystallized ginger until blended into the dough

Using rounded teaspoonfuls (or not quite full tablespoons), form dough into balls and roll them in the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, lightly flatten with the bottom of a glass and bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

NOTES: These are outstanding. They are delicious and hold up well to travel, so they would make great gifts. The texture is perfect - crisp around the edges and just a little chewy in the middle. Definitely one of my new favorite cookie recipes!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hoisin Chicken with Peanuts

Hoisin Chicken with Peanuts
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 8 per serving

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 c. unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
2 c. cooked brown rice, kept warm.

Combine the chicken, 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce and 1 Tbsp. cornstarch in a medium bowl; toss well to coat and set aside. Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp. hoisin, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, broth, vinegar, sugar, ginger and chili-garlic sauce in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the chicken. Stir-fry until almost cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add the bell pepper, carrots and peanuts, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hoisin sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Serve over rice.

NOTES: I'm such a sucker for Asian food. This dish is absolutely fantastic and I I'm making it again soon. The sweetness of the veggies and hoisin, the savory of the garlic and chicken and then the addition of peanuts give this dish a good balance of flavors and textures.

Gremolata-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Tomato Relish

Gremolata-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Tomato Relish
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 4 per serving

4 large plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. packed flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

To prepare the relish, combine the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl; cover and let stand at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine the parsley, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper. Pound the chicken to a 1/4-inch thickness, using a meat mallet. Remove and discard the top sheet of waxed paper; spread the chicken with the parsley mixture. Start with the narrower ends and roll each chicken breast around the filling; remove and discard the remaining waxed paper.

Place the chicken, seam-side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Slice each breast on the diagonal into four pieces. Serve with the relish.

NOTES: Great technique! While this is really good as-is, I think putting some cheese in the chicken before rolling it - maybe some feta or goat cheese - would really make this pop. Alternatively, coating the rolled chicken pieces in panko before baking would be good, too. So many possibilities!

Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing

Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 4 per serving

1 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
2/3 c. wild rice, rinsed
4 tsp. butter
2 c. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 celery stalk, diced
6 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. dry red wine
1 c. fresh spinach, chopped

In a small saucepan, combine the chicken stock and water; bring to a boil. Add the rice and stir. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 45 - 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees; spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté the mushrooms, bell pepper, celery, shallots, thyme, salt and pepper until the vegetables are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes; stir in the wine. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid evaporates, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the spinach and rice; transfer to the casserole, and bake until heated through, about 30 to 40 minutes.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lemon Spaghetti

Lemon Spaghetti
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 4 per serving

6 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. capers
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, combine thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Drain pasta, reserving 2 Tbsp. cooking liquid. Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid and 1 Tbsp. cheese to the lemon mixture in the large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

NOTES: Excellent side dish! We served this with Italian Baked Salmon (the recipe is also in this cookbook) and the pairing was perfect. Very flavorful, not to heavy and reheated well the next day.

Winter Vegetable Curry

Winter Vegetable Curry
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 9 per serving

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 small cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 Braeburn apple, peeled and grated
1/2 c. golden raisins
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 c. chopped tomatoes
1 c. chicken broth
3 c. sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
Salt, to taste
2 c. jasmine rice, kept warm.

Sauté ginger, garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon and cloves in oil in a large pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, apple, raisins, curry, bay leaf and pepper flakes. Cook until onions soften, about 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and broth, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and season with salt.

Serve over rice.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Parmesan Polenta

Parmesan Polenta
Servings: 2
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

1 c. skim milk
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt, to taste

Bring milk and broth to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Slowly stir in cornmeal, reduce heat to low, and simmer until thick, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Season with salt.

NOTES: Wonderful. This is so decadent, you won't believe it's not terrible for you. We dressed it up a bit by adding in some sun-dried tomato puree, but it was fantastic on its own when I tasted it before the puree went in.

Chicken Cacciatore with Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Chicken Cacciatore with Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
Servings: 2
Weight Watchers Points: 8 per serving

1 oz. prosciutto
1 Tbsp. + 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 c. button mushrooms, quartered
1 c. onion, sliced
1/2 c. red bell pepper, sliced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 can (14.5 ounce) whole tomatoes
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

Fry prosciutto in 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until crisp, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and sear 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken and prosciutto to a plate.

Saute mushrooms, onion and bell pepper in 2 Tbsp. olive oil in same pan over medium high heat until onion softens, 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano and pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds.

Deglaze with wine, scraping bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add tomatoes, crushing slightly, and bring to a boil. Return chicken and prosciutto to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve over Parmesan Polenta.

NOTES: Some dishes are "company dishes" and this is one of them. Assemble and let it simmer on the stove until ready to eat. We serve this over polenta and it's to die for.

Salmon Patties with Creamed Pea Sauce

Salmon Patties with Creamed Pea Sauce
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

For the patties:
1 can (14.5 ounces) salmon, drained with liquid reserved
1 c. mashed potato flakes
1/2 c. egg substitute
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp. margerine
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 c. reserved salmon liquid
3/4 c. skim milk
1 small can (8.5 ounces) peas
1/2 tsp. dried dill

To make the patties, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line eight muffin cups with cupcake liners. Combine all patty ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Press into muffin liners and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until browned.

For the sauce, melt margarine over medium heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour, being careful of lumps. Slowly add milk and salmon liquid. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas and dill.

Serve pea sauce over salmon patties.

NOTES: This is one of my childhood staple recipes. It's been lightened up a bit by using skim milk, margarine and egg substitute. Depression-era food that's not at all depressing. One of my favorites and easy to make with pantry staples.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dip)

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dip)
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

1 tsp. garlic chili paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt

Grind the chili paste and garlic to a paste in a mortar, then combine with all the other ingredients and mix until sugar is dissolved.

NOTES: This stuff is great on salads, pasta, soups - all sorts of stuff. But we primarily use it on our Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers with Rice.

Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers with Rice

Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers with Rice
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 8 per serving

For the chicken:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 medium shallot, chunked
2 Tbsp. chopped lemongrass
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. garlic chili paste
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the salad:
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into moons
1 large carrot, shredded
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
3 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 1/2 c. white rice, kept warm

Put the chicken chunks into a large, zip-top bag.

Prepare the marinade by putting the shallot, lemongrass, garlic, chili paste and Canola oil in a food processor and blend until combined. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and pulse until blended. Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.

Preheat the broiler.

Thread the chicken chunks onto metal skewers and lay the skewers on a rack on top of a sheet pan lined with foil. Broil for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through and browned.

To prepare the salad, toss the cucumber and carrot with the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar, and let marinate.

To serve, put rice on one side of each of four plates, and lettuce on the other side. Top the lettuce with the cucumber-carrot mixture, and the rice with some of the chicken.

Serve with plenty of Nauc Cham.

NOTES: This meal is one of the reasons why I love Vietnamese cooking. It's light, flavorful and full of complex flavors, but so simple in presentation that it's sort of misleading. This meal is a standby in our house - we have it at least once a month.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa
Servings: 3

For the salsa:
2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and diced
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
1/2 c. red onion, minced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

3 salmon fillets (about 6 oz. each)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the salsa, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix well to blend, then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salmon.

Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over each salmon fillet, and season with salt and pepper. Add salmon to skillet and cook until desired doneness, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the salmon to serving plates and top with strawberry salsa.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grilled Leeks with Mint Vinaigrette

Grilled Leeks with Mint Vinaigrette
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. fresh mint, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. stone-ground mustard
Salt and pepper
12 large leeks
Olive oil cooking spray

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and lime juice. Add the olive oil, mint, garlic, mustard and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until combined. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Bring to room temperature and stir before using.

Trim the leeks, leaving about 1 inch of the green tops intact. Halve each leek lengthwise and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Dry well and spray with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grill rack. Place the leeks on the rack and cook, turning once or twice, until fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes total.

Transfer the leeks to a serving dish and drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette.

NOTES: Two words - yum. ee. I really like leeks, and could eat them without dressing of any kind, but the dressing for these was just outstanding. I think it would also be terrific on onions, or a spinach salad.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lemon-Ginger Poached Halibut with Leeks and Spinach

Lemon-Ginger Poached Halibut with Leeks and Spinach
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 10 per serving

2 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp. garlic, finely grated
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 halibut fillets, 1-inch thick
2 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced
3 c. chicken broth, more as needed
4 c. lightly packed spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 c. fresh mint, roughly chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
6 ounces udon or soba noodles, cooked and kept warm

In a small bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, lemon zest, 1 tsp. of olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Pat the mixture evenly all over one side of each fillet.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring constantly, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and 1 Tbsp. on lemon juice. Cover and bring to a simmer over high heat. Arrange the fish, lemon-ginger side up, in a single layer on top of the leeks. If necessary, add more broth until the fillets are almost but not completely submerged. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer gently until the fish is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the noodles in each of four shallow serving bowls. With a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to the bowls and place on top of the noodles.

Add the spinach, mint and green onions to the broth and stir until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste with more lemon juice, salt and pepper. Ladle the vegetables and broth around the fish and noodles and serve.

NOTES: Beautiful. Fresh. Bright. Delicious. This dish is springtime in a shallow bowl. We devoured the fish and veggies, and slurped the last of the broth. Everything about this dish is just delightful. A BIG winner!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sloppy (and Healthy) Joes

Sloppy (and Healthy) Joes
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 7 per serving

1 lb.  lean ground turkey
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 c. tomato sauce
1/4 c. water
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard powder
3/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 whole-wheat burger buns

Brown the meat and the onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and green pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Place a half-cup scoop of the mixture onto each bun and serve.

NOTES: These were terrific. I love sloppy joes - and these are a healthier alternative. We'll be making these often!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

Coarse salt
12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
2/3 c. reduced-fat peanut butter
4 tsp. red curry paste (to taste)
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
Juice of one lime, plus wedges for serving
1/3 c. fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for sprinkling
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, canoed and cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
Fish sauce, red pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce (optional)

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Reserve about 3/4 c. cooking water, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Shake off excess water and set aside.

Meanwhile, puree the peanut butter, curry paste, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, 1/2 c. cooking water and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor until smooth. Toss the spaghetti with the peanut sauce, green onions, cucumber, carrot and bell pepper in a large bowl until coated. Season with salt and stir in some more water to loosen the sauce, if necessary. Transfer to bowls and top with more cilantro, fish sauce and some sprinkles of Sriracha, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

NOTES: I have a new favorite Asian-inspired side dish, and it's one. The sauce is so incredibly flavorful, and the textures of the noodles and vegetables is so interesting and delightful, I think I could eat a little bit of this salad every day. We made this to serve with Coconut Poached Chicken, and it went well with that dish. I think I'd like to try it with spring rolls sometime, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Peas with Leeks and Tarragon

Peas with Leeks and Tarragon
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

2 large leeks
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. frozen peas
1/2-1 tsp. tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice leeks lengthwise into quarters, then slice crosswise into small pieces. Transfer leeks to a strainer and rinse carefully, making sure all the dirt comes out. Leeks are often covered in dirt, and cleaning them already chopped is definitely the easiest way.

Shake leeks dry. In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil. Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and get pale. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until leeks have really softened and some have turned golden, about 20 minutes. Add a pinch or two of salt.

When leeks are very soft, add peas, still frozen is fine. Cook until peas are warmed through, stirring regularly to make sure heat gets evenly distributed. If too much liquid collects in the bottom of the pan, turn heat back up to medium to boil it off. When peas are warm and liquid has been mostly reduced, add tarragon and stir through. Taste, then adjust for tarragon and salt levels. Finish with a couple grinds of black pepper, and serve immediately.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Provençal Ratatouille

Provençal Ratatouille
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 2 per serving

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 c. dry red wine
1 lb. ripe plum tomatoes (about 6), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and drizzle the oil into it. Add the shallots and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes, or until tender. Add the eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Add the red wine, then the tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 8 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and broken down. Season the ratatouille generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Baby Spinach

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Baby Spinach
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 c. onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. assorted wild mushrooms, such as oyster, chanterelles and morels, cut into large pieces (you can also use cremini mushrooms)
2 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh baby spinach
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leafed parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes, or until they soften. Add the mushrooms and saute for 8 minutes, or until just tender. Remove the pan from the heat, add the spinach and parsley, and toss until the spinach softens and becomes bright green. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sauteed Mushrooms with Thyme

Sauteed Mushrooms with Thyme
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

2 Tbsp. light butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 1/2 lbs. small white mushrooms, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1/4 c. red or white wine

In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallot; cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium. Add the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 5 - 6 minutes.

Uncover; raise the heat to high. Cook, tossing, until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are brown, about 3 - 5 minutes. Add the thyme and wine. Cook until the skillet is almost dry, about 1 minute.

NOTES: Mushrooms are sort of the forgotten vegetable for me. I mean, I LOVE mushrooms. I think they're so delicious, I forget they count as a vegetable, that they are a great source of protein, B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, and a host of other good-for-you minerals. This dish as a great side with just about anything, and it comes together really fast. I don't know if it reheats the next day, because there's never any leftovers!

Pasta with Escarole, White Beans and Chicken Sausage

Pasta with Escarole, White Beans and Chicken Sausage
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 12 per serving

12 ounces chunky whole-wheat pasta (like bowties)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces uncooked low-fat Italian-style chicken sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 medium head escarole, chopped (about 8 cups)
1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep saute pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 3 - 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in the sausage and cook until heated through and browned, about 4 minutes. Add the escarole and cook until wilted, 3 - 4 minutes. Add the beans, 1 cup of the broth, the sage and red pepper flakes and simmer until the mixture is heated through and the liquid is slightly reduced.

Drain the pasta, add it to the sausage-bean mixture and toss well, loosening with the remaining 1/2 cup of broth if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese before serving.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 4 per thigh

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3 c. stone-ground mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground marjoram
3/4 tsp. dried basil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the mustard, garlic, herbs and maple syrup in a small bowl. Spread 1/4 of the mustard mixture on the top of each thigh, being careful to cover as much of the surface as possible to form a "crust." Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a baking dish.

Bake until the mustard mixture has formed a crust and is slightly hardened, and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced in the center, about 30 minutes.

NOTES: This dish may have a small ingredient list, but it's got loads of flavor. It's super-easy to prepare and really, really delicious!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lynn’s Awesomesauce Cookies


Lynn's Awesomesauce Cookies
Servings: about 40 cookies
Weight Watchers Points: 2 per cookie

3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 c. whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk chocolate chips
3/4 c. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix sugars, butter, applesauce, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool on a rack and enjoy!

NOTES: Best. Cookies. Ever. That's all you need to know.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eggplant Spread

Eggplant Spread
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

1 large (1 1/2 lb.) eggplant
14 sun-dried tomatoes (if oil-packed, drained and rinsed thoroughly)
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the eggplant lengthwise; cut two deep slits into each of the cut sides. Insert the tomatoes and garlic into the slits.  Place the eggplant in a 12 x 8" baking pan; bake, covered, until the eggplant is tender, about 45 minutes. Cool until comfortable to handle, about 15 minutes.

Scoop out the eggplant pulp, tomatoes and garlic; place in a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice, oregano, oil, cumin and pepper flakes; puree. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at room temperature with pita triangles or vegetables.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa

Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points:  6 per serving

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp. red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
4 salmon fillets
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Lime wedges for garnish

In a bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and cilantro. Toss gently to mix. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 1 teaspoon of canola oil, the honey, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp of salt. Pour the lime juice mixture over the cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat evenly. Set aside.

Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick pan. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until opaque throughout, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the salmon fillets to plates and top each with salsa. Garnish with more cilantro and lime.

NOTES: Mmm. And EASY! A friend who tried this before I did (hi, Courtney!) said that the salsa really made this special, and she was right. We loved everything about this one - the color, the texture, the flavor - it all goes together well to create a dish that just shouts, "Hello, summer!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Thyme and Garlic

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Thyme and Garlic
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

2 Tbsp. vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large portobello mushrooms, brushed clean and stemmed

Combine the stock, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme and salt in a large zip-lock bag. Arrange the mushroom caps in one layer in the marinade, turning once to coat. Seal the bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate the mushrooms at room temperature, turning occasionally, about 1 hour.

Prepare a hot grill or broiler, and lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Positon the cooking rack 4 inches from the heat source.

Arrange the mushrooms on the rack or broiler pan and grill or broil, turning often, until tender, about 7 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board. slice thinly and serve warm.

NOTES: Wow. Who knew a marinade could transform a mushroom into something really amazing? Just thinking about how good this was make me happy. Make sure to use plenty of fresh thyme - an extra sprinkle on top before serving will make these pop. Serve with Creamy Polenta with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis for a really delicious, easy, healthy, meal. Did I mention that this is delicious yet?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thai-Style Curried Chicken Soup

Thai-Style Curried Chicken Soup
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 8 per serving

1 Tbsp. Canola oil
1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
3 c. chicken broth
2 c. light coconut milk
1 c. regular coconut milk
1 large lemongrass stalk, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 Thai chilies, seeded and chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/2 lb. fresh white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, julienned, plus some for garnish

Warm the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, coconut milks, lemongrass, ginger, chilies to taste, lime juice and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir well and simmer until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken strips and cook until just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. If desired, test a piece of chicken to make sure it's fully cooked. Add the mushrooms and sliced basil and cook until the mushrooms are softened, about 2 minutes longer.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with additional basil. Serve at once.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Singapore Chow Mai Fun

Singapore Chow Mai Fun
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

5 ounces mai fun (rice sticks or rice noodles)
1/2 c. chicken broth
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3/4 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
1 tsp. sugar
6 ounces lean ground pork
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat; add the mai fun and soak until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Spray a wok with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder. Stir-fry until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Add the noodles and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

NOTES: This dish tasted just like something you'd get from a good Chinese Restaurant. The ground pork is so juicy and different from the normal ingredients we usually use. The noodles are so good in this, too - a nice change from rice. Be careful not to add too much heat or it will become overwhelming.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lemon-berry Pudding Cake

Lemon-berry Pudding Cake
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 4 per serving

1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. berries - blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl; add the buttermilk, lemon rind, lemon juice, butter, and egg yolks, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into the buttermilk mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold in berries.

Pour the batter into an 4- to 5-cup souffle dish, or 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place in a larger baking pan; add hot water to larger pan to depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Serve warm.

NOTES: This dessert was such a welcome departure from the cold drab of winter - the colors are bright and lovely, the lemon is so delicious and the blackberries were plump and juicy. Delightful! It was even good as leftovers the next day - the lemon flavor was more intense, but I like that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Forbidden Rice Salad

Forbidden Rice Salad
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

1 cup Forbidden (black) rice
1 red pepper, diced
1 ripe mango stoned, peeled and diced
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 lime, juice and zest
1 teaspoon sugar
1 jalepeno pepper, minced

Cook the rice as directed on the package.

Mix the black rice, red pepper, mango, green onions, cilantro and mint in a large bowl.

Mix the fish sauce, lime juice and zest, sugar and jalepeno in a small bowl.

Toss the salad in the dressing and enjoy. Serve room temperature or chilled.

NOTES: You can find Forbidden (black) rice at Whole Foods. This salad was amazing - the rice is nutty and hearty and a little bitter and sweet. Combined with the sweet fruit, the spicy pepper and the exotic fish sauce, it was a real hit. It's also very, very pretty. We will make this one again, for sure.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pan-Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs

Pan-Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

1 tsp. olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
Olive oil cooking spray
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Heat 1 tsp. oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes; cook 3 - 4 minutes or until tomatoes begin to blister. Remove from heat; spritz tomatoes with olive oil cooking spray and stir in remaining ingredients, tossing gently to combine. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

NOTES: When we made this the first time, I used way too much rosemary (about 2 teaspoons fresh), but it was still tasty, nonetheless. I'm looking forward to trying this again in the summer with some really nice, fresh tomatoes and serving it alongside a nice piece of grilled fish.

Thyme and Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Thyme  and Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 3 per serving

1 lb. small red potatoes (about 8 potatoes)
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Scrub potatoes; cut each into 8 wedges. Place wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss well. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and pepper; toss until potatoes are evenly coated with spices. Arrange wedges in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes or until browned.

NOTES: I'm not usually a big potato person, but this was a really great side dish with our Turkey Antipasto Paninis. The potatoes got nice and crispy, and the seasoning was just right. This makes A LOT of potatoes, though - we cut the recipe in half and still had about twice as much as we needed. The best part about this recipe, though, was that it was really easy to throw together and the end results were very good.

Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 2 per serving

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 shallot, chopped

Whisk first 3 ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir in tomatoes, basil and shallot.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup

Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 2 per serving

5 tsp. olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
7 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. wild rice
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, fennel, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the water, rice, bay leaf and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the grains start to pop and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Toss the tomatoes with the remaining 3 teaspoons oil and place cut-side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the skins are shriveled and just begin to brown, about 20 minutes.

Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices to the rice mixture in the saucepan. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pan-Seared Salmon with Honey-Balsamic Sauce





Pan-Seared Salmon with Honey-Balsamic Sauce
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 8 per serving

Cooking spray
1/4 tsp. olive oil
1 c. leeks, juilenne-cut
4 6-oz salmon fillets, with or without skin
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. pepper, divided
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add oil. Place over medium-high heat; add leeks, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

Sprinkle fish with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove from pan; set aside, and keep warm.

Add vinegar, honey, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper to pan. Cook over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes or until reduced by half. Divide leeks evenly over fish; drizzle with sauce. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 1 tablespoon sauce).

NOTES: My oh my. This was better than just about anything I've ever gotten in a restaurant, and that's saying something. The salmon was crisp and tender and juicy, the sauce was sweet and tangy, the leeks were savory and the whole thing, sitting on top of Buttery Herb Couscous, was absolutely delicious. I think I could eat this meal every single day and be perfectly happy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Makeshift “Hamburger” Helper

Makeshift "Hamburger" Helper
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 4 per serving

8 oz. whole wheat macaroni noodles (uncooked)
1 lb. ground turkey
14 oz. fat-free beef broth
2 cups water
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. button mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup grated reduced fat parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Brown turkey in a large skillet. When beef is cooked through, add veggies, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook it until the veggies start to soften and release their juices, stirring it often.

Stir in the water, 1 1/2 cups of the broth, uncooked macaroni noodles, and the Worcestershire sauce, bring to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce heat to medium and cook until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the flour with the remaining 1/4 cup of broth in a small bowl until it's smooth with no lumps. Stir this into the turkey mixture. Add the sour cream. Simmer uncovered, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened. Right before serving, add the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. The sauce will thicken some as it sits.

NOTES: A staple of my childhood cooking experience was a cheeseburger casserole, the recipe for which came on case of macaroni and cheese we got from Sam's Club. It was a delicious and high-in-fat-and-calories concoction of cooked hamburger, macaroni and cheese and cream of mushroom soup. It was Hamburger Helper without the glove. I still love the flavor of that meal, but don't want much of anything to do with the old versions. This "makeshift" "hamburger" helper is so named because it's a from-scratch version of the originals that uses ground turkey instead of beef. The flavors are very, very similar to what you're used to, with far fewer calories or fat grams - knowing that it's good for you makes it taste even better. Serve with a side of sauteed spinach.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Surprise Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie


Surprise Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Servings: 8
Weight Watchers Points: 10 per serving (definitely a decadent treat, but SO worth it)

12 oz. block lite silken tofu
12 oz. milk chocolate chips
1 c. reduced-fat creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. honey
1 prepared reduced-fat graham cracker crust

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together in the microwave until smooth and blended. I microwave for 30 seconds, then stir, then 30 more, then stir, and so on until the mix is just right.

Combine chocolate and peanut butter mixture, tofu and honey in a blender and process until smooth.

Pour mixture into prepared pie crust and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Top with fat-free whipped topping and serve.

NOTES: The surprise is, of course, tofu. Don't tell people there is tofu in this pie and they won't have any idea. It's the best chocolate peanut butter pie you or they will ever eat. For a variation, substitute 1/3 cup of coffee liquor for the peanut butter, and add 1 tsp. vanilla extract. The points will reduce by about 1 per serving, and it's still freaking delicious. The pie is really rich, so I actually get 16 to 20 servings out of one of these - a little slice goes a long way.