May 31, 2009

Weight Watchers: Noodles in Sesame-Soy Sauce

Hard to believe that it's Monday morning already! Feels like I blinked and the weekend is over. We had some gorgeous weather and even got the chance to make s'mores with our neighbors after dinner Saturday night.

I imagine I'm not the only one out there trying to balance healthy eating with weekend indulgences. So, in an effort to keep my eating "in check", I pulled out some of my cookbooks that focus on lower calories, fat and more vegetables. I'm going to be sharing these recipes as I make them as I imagine we all can use a few more healthy recipes to share with our families.

Last week I sat down and created a tentative meal plan. This seems to be the main way that I am able to ensure that I eat right during the upcoming week. It also ensures that I don't make too many impulse purchases as the grocery store. I chose more recipes than I knew I'd be making as I like to have more options than I have days to cook.

My first recipe this week is something I thought would be perfect for tossing into my lunch bag, Noodles in Sesame-Soy Sauce. This recipe comes from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook which I've had for quite awhile now. I picked it up and marked tons of recipes, but for some reason haven't managed to make most of them.

I love Asian flavored dishes so this one appealed to me right away. Very simple to make and it was done in about 15 minutes. Definitely use an Asian sesame oil rather than the plain one's you find at the grocery store with the other oils. It adds a lot more flavor, and you should be able to find it in the ethnic foods section of most large grocery stores.

I did add some slivered almonds to mine as I like to add a bit of crunch to dishes like this. I think peanuts would also be a nice addition. Sliced, cooked chicken would make this an even more filling lunch or main course meal. Of course, that will change the points value for those on WW. This recipe makes 6 servings at 3 points each, made as stated in the recipe.

From Family, Friends and Food

May 28, 2009

Fruit Chillers

Last weekend, we had some wonderful warm days and My Youngest decided that my mini-van should be washed. I just love when they come up with these ideas on their own, and Dad handles the supervision of the activity!

After working so hard, I was happy to pull out some treats I had received to review last week. Del Monte has come out with some frozen treats, Fruit Chillers tubes, that will appeal to kids (and adults). They contain no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors, unlike those other frozen tube treats. A bonus to adults who are watching their calories - only 55 calories per serving (or 1 point for those on Weight Watchers). I like that I can pronounce all of the ingredients in these treats, and that they are made from real fruit purees.

From Family, Friends and Food

These treats are closer to a sorbet than the fruit ices that typically come in the frozen treat tubes. They don't require any effort either - just stick them in the freezer overnight. Quick and easy, which is always nice when the lazy days of summer arrive.

As you can see, both of My Boys gave these a big thumb's up. We also shared some with the neighbor kids over the weekend, and they were a hit all around. The kids sampled Grape Berry Blizzard and Strawberry Snow Storm. Both were well liked, but I think the consensus was that the strawberry was the overall favorite.

Since a box of 8 is only $2.89, I'm sure I'll be keeping some of these no-guilt treats on hand this summer.

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May 27, 2009

Martha’s Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has a preference when it comes to the type of cookie that will satisfy that cookie craving. Some like the crispy cookie that snaps when you bite into it. Others prefer cookies filled with nuts and anything else they can find in their pantry. I like a chewy cookie, especially when it comes to the traditional chocolate chip style cookie.

The other night, I wanted to do some baking after My Boys went to bed so I pulled out Martha Stewart's Cookies. While I enjoyed the Cook’s Illustrated chocolate chip cookie, I was looking for something cake-like in texture. I love this cookbook because the cookies are organized by their texture, so it makes it easy to select one based on your current mood.

Since I had used the last of my chocolate chips in the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, I decided to use peanut butter chips in these cookies. As with most chocolate chip style cookies, they are very simple to put together, and include the usual ingredients. The difference in this recipe is that they have reduced the amount of butter and brown sugar in order to produce a thicker, fluffier cookie.

From Family, Friends and Food
My cookies were slightly thicker than other recipes I have tried, but not significantly. They do stay soft and chewy even after a day in a tightly sealed container. They have a tender crumb and larger one’s will fall apart easily.

We enjoyed these cookies, but I think I like the browned butter addition from the CI recipe and may try incorporating that next time.

Here are some other sweet treats that are sure to tempt you:

My Kitchen Cafe shared a Chocolate Chip Cake that would solve the cakey cookie dilemma!
Karen Cooks enjoyed a slice of Lemon Rosemary Pound Cake - a bit of savory and sweet to accompany your afternoon tea.
Head over to Annie's Eats and check out the Butterfly Cupcakes she made for her babysitter's daughter... simply adorable!




Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Martha Stewart’s Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (I used peanut butter chips)


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour and baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Put butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add salt, vanilla and eggs; mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chips.
  3. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake until centers are set and edges are golden, between 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Store in air-tight containers for up to 1 week.



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May 26, 2009

Ruhlman's Ratio & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Good Morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend and took a moment to thank the servicemen and women in our armed forces. We had a nice relaxing weekend which consisted of a bit of shopping (for me!) and My Boys got to go fishing with their Dad and Grandpa. Our town had their annual Memorial Day Parade and we went over to watch that before spending the day hanging out and playing in the backyard. Overall, a very nice weekend.
Of course, after not entertaining or cooking much this weekend I was feeling like I needed to make something. So, last night I decided to make Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins using Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking as my guide. I picked this book up because I was very intriqued by the idea that you can use simple ratios to create bread, pasta, quickbreads, sauces and soups. It really does make sense and if you are a math-oriented person this will come very easily to you. I am finding the book very interesting and will be trying to apply his ratios as I get through the book.
From Family, Friends and Food
Using the method of weighing the ingredients is actually a good one, not only does it ensure that you are using the absolute most correct amount, but it eliminates tons of dirty measuring cups! The only thing I did not do was add the melted butter, and that was due to me forgetting it was in the microwave until after I had put them in the oven. But even without the butter they turned out really delicious! My Oldest and My Husband each had one for breakfast this morning and I got the thumb's up from both of them on this recipe. Seems that the missing butter did not adversely affect this recipe. They are nice and moist and the chocolate chips were pretty well distributed.
I'm going to start sharing links for other similar recipes again, sorry for skipping out on that for awhile but with the craziness of baseball I just wanted to make sure that I got my posts written! So, here are a couple of other breakfast or brunch ideas that you won't want to miss!
Sweetnicks shared Monkey Bread which looks like the perfect weekend breakfast to me!
Genisis of a Cook is preparing to graduate high school (yes, high school, and she's got an incredible number of fabulous recipes already!), so she decided to make a Classic Coffee Cake to celebrate.



Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Inspired by: Michale Ruhlman's Ratio

Ingredients
4 oz. white whole wheat flour
4 oz. all-purpose flour
4 oz. sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed bananas (use really ripe ones for the best result - I used about 2 large)
4 oz. milk
2 oz. orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl (flours through cinnamon). In a separate bowl, combine bananas through eggs and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine, but do not overmix.
Pour batter into a muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray or filled with muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes.
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May 21, 2009

Steak & Gorgonzola Quesadillas

Last night was beautiful out so, while My Boys were outside playing and enjoying themselves I got the grill going. I had picked up some more London Broil on sale this week, so I put one in the freezer for later and lightly seasoned one for the grill.
From Family, Friends and Food
Since this was a rather large piece of meat, we had leftovers. I love when that happens when we have a busy week of baseball games like this one. So, tonight after we got home from My Youngest's game I decided quesadillas would make a quick and easy dinner. I pulled out the leftover sliced steak and added some crumbled gorgonzola cheese to the tortilla. Then, I thought a drizzle of balsamic vinegar would add a final layer of flavor to bring it all together. I've had these ingredients together before so I knew they would work.

May 20, 2009

Deliciously Simple White Chocolate Tartlets

A weeknight treat is pretty rare around here as I don’t always have time to create a really nice dessert after work, homework, and everything else we have going on each night. So, when I received a copy of Sandra Lee Semi-HomemadeDesserts 2 I dug in because everything she makes is quick and simple. It’s not from scratch, but sometimes it’s ok to take short-cuts.

I love that the cookbook has photos of every recipe, as I’ve said before that’s very important to me. When I saw a simple recipe for making a creamy little tartlet I was all over it! I already had the mini graham cracker crusts in my pantry from some other brainstorm I had that passed over before I could remember to use them.

They went together in less than 10 minutes, which is perfect for a weeknight. Rather than make shaved chocolate curls, I decided to add some grated chocolate over the top of them.
From Family, Friends and Food

May 19, 2009

Strawberry Spa Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

In spite of all the goodies you see me post here, I do try to eat healthy on a regular basis. You wouldn’t know it by some of the recipes I share, but honestly working out and making better choices allows me to indulge without as much guilt.

I received a copy of A Century of Flavors which uses vanilla and other extracts to enhance the recipes. The recipes begin with side dishes, then dinner followed by baked goods. I’ve got several pages marked to try for later in the year because I am really intrigued by the addition of vanilla to some of the soups and can’t wait to see how that improves the overall taste. This is a beautiful cookbook with gorgeous, mouth-watering photos throughout. I found it hard to decide what to make first.

Since summer and warmer weather is here I decided to go with the Spa Salad with Almond Vinaigrette. This simple salad is taken to the next level of greatness by the Almond Vinaigrette. The ingredients include both vanilla extract and almond extract. The two marry together nicely with the Dijon mustard and the maple syrup. It is not overly sweet, but rather well-balanced. I found the flavor to be more interesting than any other vinaigrette I’ve made at home, and would serve this to guests without a second thought.
From Family, Friends and Food

May 17, 2009

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I am sitting down to write some blog posts to share with you this week, I am thinking about how fast the weekend went. It was filled with running around between baseball, shopping, swim lessons and play dates at our house.

I don’t know about anyone else, but setting up play dates is the key to keeping the peace some weekends. My Boys are best buddies most of the time, but there are times when they just don’t want to be around each other. That’s when I make sure to invite a friend over for each of them to play with and magically happiness is restored to my home.

So, today while I had 4 boys playing Wii and other wonderful games that boys like to play I decided that they needed some cookies. As you may have guessed, I couldn’t just make some cookie I’ve made before. Where would the fun be in that?

I have been reading my friend, Honey B’s blog and lately she has found some great cookie recipes in the Cooking Light Five Star Recipes: The Best of 10 Years cookbook. So, inspired by her posts I thought I’d sample another one of the cookies in that cookbook – Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Since My Youngest does not care for raisins I swapped out semi-sweet chocolate chips for the raisins (a change I knew would work after reading another blogging friend's post on Oatmeal Cookies - check out Recipegirl for some great recipes!), so that will change the calorie count. But, only a little bit as I made my cookies a bit small and I believe you could eat 2 for only around 101 calories.

The cookies were a huge hit with all the boys except my youngest. I guess the oatmeal was a bit too obvious for him to even try them. They were nice and chewy and really did not taste like lightened cookies at all. So, go ahead, have two cookies and non of the guilt!

From Family, Friends and Food

May 15, 2009

Presto Pasta Nights #113 Round-Up!!

From Family, Friends and Food
Are you ready for some fantastic pasta dishes? Well, get comfortable because this week's Presto Pasta Night's round-up is FILLED with incredible pasta recipes. Be sure to check out each of these blogs, I found some new one's that I'll be visiting whenever I can.

Our first entry this week is from Graziana in Italy who writes Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs). She made Leek and Peas Pasta which looks positively delicious with all that creamy goodness.

Our next entry comes from Sara at Cupcake Muffin. Her dish, Pasta with Roasted Fennel looks amazing and I think her idea to add sausage to it would convince even My Boys to try it!

Wiffy at Noob Cook sent in a Creamy Spaghetti that is very similar to a carbonara... can you say... YUM? I know I would be if it were served to me!


Windy from Windy's Food Corner made a comforting Bacon Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce that looks like it would be a snap to put together on a busy day!


Ferdzy at Seasonal Ontario Food shares my love of pasta and it's ability to help get dinner on the table in short order! She made Pasta with Cheddar, Cream and Spring Vegetables.
Ela in the Philappines who writes Everything's Herbed has shared a dish with some very interedsting ingredients, Batchoy Tagalog. Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food shared a fantastic all day, low and slow recipe for her All Day Spaghetti Sauce. It's filled with 3 types of meat and good-for-you veggies, too!

Sara from What Smells So Good? is sharing a wonderful meal she made for Mother's Day, Summer Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Croutons.

Kait from Pots and Plots made an Updated Chicken Rotel that was so good, she had to make it a second time to get a picture to share with us!

Breadchick at The Sour Dough is back after a break from PPN with Herb Chicken Pasta with Morels that will have you going in search of morels just so you can try this dish as well.
Lisa at Jerseygirl Cooks had a bit of a mis-hap with dinner one night and wasn't able to make what she planned. But, her mis-hap is our gain because she was able to put together Fettuccine with Crispy Pancetta and Peas in a matter of minutes.

Kitchenetta from Got No Milk brings us Linguine with Turkey Ragu that is positively mouth-watering!

From Gaga in the Kitchen we have a wonderful way to use homemade noodles! Try making Niu Rou Mien (aka: Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup) for a bowl of comfort.

Next up is a creamy Tortelloni with Goat cheese dish from The Sweet Kitchen. This dish is a grown-up version of the Italian dish often served to young children, pasta with formaggino. Who could resist this?


Ty's Mommy at The Seventh Level of Boredom re-created a favorite dish from a restaurant she worked at, Beef and Noodles. It looks like the perfect dish for a cool day. Muneeba from An Edible Symphony came up with a slightly different version of Chicken Giouvetsi / Youvetsi based on previoius Presto Pasta Night submissions. Hers is full of flavor and after eating it you may find you crave it frequently.

Ann at Pig Pig's Corner made recreated a dish she enjoyed while in Malaysia, Spicy Penne with Roasted Corgettes, Prawns and Pesto. One look at this dish, and you'll be wishing you could taste it now.

Thyme for Cooking brings us Shrimp, Avocado and Olive Pasta that would make a lovely lunch or a perfect side dish to bring to a barbeque.

My good friend, Shelby from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honebunch, joins us this week with a quick and easy side dish, Garlic Noodles. Total YUM! Katie at One Little Corner of the World finally found a homemade Mac and Cheese recipe that her husband likes better than the blue box!

If you are looking for homemade pasta, check out Colleen's Recipes. Her husband bought her a pasta roller and her first time out she made a gorgeous Chicken Tetrazzini with Homemade Noodles.

Joan at Eats Well with Others is beginning the countdown to finishing college with a nice light pasta dish, Indian Spiced Chickpeas and Kale over Fusilli. Perfect for a warmer evening!

I've been getting to know Mary from Baking Delights over on Twitter recently, and I am so happy she decided to join in and share her Chicken and Noodles with Rosemary & Swiss... truly an updated take on classic comfort food.

Juliette from A Little Foodie may be a busy grad student, but she still managed to find time to put together a tasty dish, Quick Leek and Mushroom Pasta. Finally, my entry which shares my continued personal challenge to master homemade pasta. Thanks, so much, to everyone who shared their amazing pasta dishes with us this week! I also want to thank Ruth from Once Upon a Feast for allowing me to host, I truly enjoyed finding all of these fantastic blogs this week! Next week, Presto Pasta Nights will be hosted by Kitchenetta of Got No Milk.

Send your entries to tfree123 (at) comcast (dot) net and cc me ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) comCheck for the roundup on May 22.

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