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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A few new things

So I went a little hog wild with buying stuff recently. But, I found a couple really cool things and I just couldn't help myself.

I wanted a nice looking dog water bowl that matches the colors in our house and I stumbled across the Yum Bowl by Karim Rashid which comes in several colors including the perfect color to match our jalepeno green paint in the kitchen.

In keeping with the pet theme, I was also looking for attractive ways to store our dog food. Previously we were using a plastic container from Target whose lid broke a long time ago and wasn't very sightly. Pretty much the only things I could find were ugly plastic containers. No big deal if we had a pantry or something to stash it in. But, our dog food has to pretty much stay out in the open for all to see due to our lack of storage/closet space.

Then, I found these guys at All Modern Pet and bought two (one for the older dogs and one for the baby). My only complaint is that they aren't very big, they don't hold a 33lb dog food bag. But, once they are all eating the same food we can just use both containers to hold one large bag.

All Modern Pet also has some really cute dog beds. But, I will have to save those for another shopping splurge.

I also had a mini spree at C&B, my favorite place. I created a registry for our anniversary so I could get the 10% completion coupon.

I purchased the kitchen island that I dreamed about in this post back in July. I love this thing. I now have so much more storage options and was able to get some of the appliances that were sitting on the counters off and hidden away. I bought some nice looking cannisters for flour and sugar and a few other small things for around the house.

Finally, we purchased some bar stools (counter top height) from Target similar to this but in black. I like these because they fit right under the overhang and don't take up any space. Now we can use the peninsula to have a quick bite to eat or to hang out with friends while in the kitchen.

The main floor is really starting to come together. Hopefully I can start hanging some things on the wall soon to make it look even more finished. We still have a lot of little projects to do on this floor (like me painting the trim which I promised I would do in return for the kitchen island) but it is feeling more and more like home.

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Sautéed Flounder with Mint and Tomatoes

My maiden voyage into cooking fish. I am not a huge fish person and have never cooked it before. But, I want to broaden my horizons and have been giving fish a whirl. Flounder is a good fish to start with because it is really mild. This dish turned out wonderful, I actually enjoyed eating fish! It was also super easy to cook.

2 cups tomatoes, Campari suggested, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, fresh, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup basil, fresh, cut into ribbons
3/4 tsp table salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1 pound flounder fillets
2 sprays cooking spray
2 tsp olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, mint, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside. Place fish on a plate; rub all over with remaining salt and pepper.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; add oil and set over medium-high heat. When oil just begins to shimmer, add fish; cook until fish turns opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Shake pan and using a spatula, carefully loosen fish from bottom of pan and remove to a serving plate.

Add tomatoes to same skillet; cook until tomatoes just start to release moisture, scraping bottom of pan to loosen drippings, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon tomatoes over fish and serve. Yields about 4 ounces fish and 1/2 cup tomatoes per serving.

Servings: 4
Points: 3

Notes (from ww):
Fish cooks really fast so it’s best to keep a watchful eye on it so that it’s not overdone and dry.

For perfectly cooked fish, follow the timing guide on the recipe. If given a range of times, say 6 to 8 minutes, check the fish at 6 minutes by cutting into the thickest part of the fish to see if it’s turned from translucent to opaque. If not, cook for the additional time suggested.

If in doubt, undercook the fish ever so slightly and let it stand in the hot pan to finish. Cooking fish properly is the key to an outstanding dish.

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Creamed Spinach

The picture I had of this looks really un-appetizing so I am just going to leave it off. One day I will have a decent camera that takes good pictures. This was a nice lowfat version of this side dish.

3/4 tsp canola oil
3 tbsp shallots, chopped
3/4 cup scallions, sliced
12 oz spinach, baby-variety (about 16 cups)
1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened (about 2 oz)
3/4 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add shallots and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add scallions and sauté 1 minute more.

Add spinach to skillet in batches, tossing mixture and adding more spinach as some of it cooks down. Cook, tossing, until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese just until melted; stir in salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Add some freshly grated nutmeg with the salt and pepper for a hint of spice.

Servings: 4
Points: 1

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Citrus Beef Stir-Fry with Carrots

This recipe was pretty good, I overcooked the beef a bit so it could have been better. I would cook the beef to rare at first and then when you add it back to the pan it will cook the rest of the way.

1 lb beef, strip sirloin, trimmed, raw, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tbsp unpacked light brown sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cups carrots, matchstick-cut
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated

Place beef in a shallow dish; pour 2 tablespoons soy sauce over beef. Turn to coat completely. Let marinate 15 minutes in refrigerator.

Combine orange juice, sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, orange rind and red pepper in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add beef and cook 6 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a serving platter; keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium-high; add carrot and onion. Cook 7 minutes or until carrot is lightly browned and crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Increase heat to high; add beef and its juices and orange juice mixture. Cook 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Servings: 4
Points: 7

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Friday, September 18, 2009


One of my favorite hilarious bloggers, Happy Hour Sue, does frequent posts using the crazy searches people have made that led them to her blog (thanks to Google Analytics who tracks such things). Hers are always outrageously funny. Mine are boring. I keep hoping to find something truly worthy of posting. But this is what I have got:

artichoke chicken breast - Natch. Which reminds me, this recipe is soooo good.
lyric coconut subway tile - Well, the subway tile part makes sense.
weight watchers points and tuna tartare - God, I love tuna tartare. And I am on ww. Bingo.
chicken breasts goat cheese garlic artichoke - Mmm, that recipe sounds divine.
marriage factory - Interesting... wonder what they were hoping to get out of that search. Maybe they really were looking for my blog. Or some sort of mail-order bride type of deal.

Chicken Salad

This is a great chicken salad, perfect for lunch time. Make it a sandwich with two pieces of Weight Watchers bread for an extra point.

3/4 pound cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1/3 cup dill pickle(s), or sweet gherkins, finely diced
1/4 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise
2 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
2 tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Place all ingredients in a large bowl; mix until blended. Yields about 2/3 cup per serving.

Points: 3

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Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

You know I can't resist enchiladas. These are pretty good, they definitely satisfied my craving. I like to use shredded chicken. I usually just boil and shred chicken when I have extra and keep in the freezer for when I need it.

1 spray cooking spray

8 oz Kraft Velveeta Light Reduced-Fat Pasteurized Processed Cheese Product (I used light Mexican cheese instead)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup scallions, green part only, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
6 medium whole wheat tortillas, 7-inches each
1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, sharp variety
6 medium olives, green, pitted, sliced (I used black)
1/4 cup salsa

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cheese product and sour cream; cover and microwave on high power until cheese melts, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove half of melted cheese to a small bowl and stir in evaporated milk; set aside. Add scallions, red pepper flakes and chicken to remaining cheese mixture; stir to coat.

Spoon about 2/3 cup of chicken mixture down center of each tortilla; fold in sides of tortilla to cover filling and place tortillas in a single layer in prepared dish; spoon remaining cheese sauce over top and then sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and olives.

Bake until cheese topping is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with salsa. Yields 1 enchilada per serving. I topped with fresh tomatoes and scallions.

Servings: 6
Points: 6

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It has come to my attention that I am slacking on posting. I have been cooking a lot of ww stuff. Some of it worthy of blogging, some of it not. I promise to get on that right away.

In the meantime, pls to enjoy some gratuitous dog pictures...

These are from when we first got Bella. We left her leash on at first to make sure everyone got along and introduce her slowly. I feel like she has already grown so much since these were taken.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Garlic Bread

We always love to have garlic bread with our pastas but our normal go-to brand is 4 points a slice. This one is half the points and quite tasty. Shown with Baked Beef Ziti.

1.5 tbsp reduced calorie margarine, melted
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp parsley, chopped*
1 tbsp chives, chopped*
3 tbsp rosemary*
4 slices Italian bread (1 oz slices)
1 spray butter flavored cooking spray

*I will sub these out for the dried versions but try to have at least one of the fresh herbs.

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine margarine, garlic, and chives in a small bowl.
Cut each piece of bread in half, but not all the way through. Lightly coat inside halves with butter flavored cooking spray. Spread garlic mixture and place rosemary sprigs between halves. Wrap in foil.
Bake 10 minutes or until heated through.

Servings: 4
Points: 2

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Baked Beef Ziti

Casey and I love this ww dish. It is really flavorful with all the Italian spices in it and makes great leftovers, too. I have slighty adapted the recipe to include extra meat and sauce. We like having that little bit of extra meat. Pictured with a side salad and my favorite garlic bread from Alexia (2 slices for 3 points plus).

12 oz uncooked ziti
1/2 lb raw lean ground beef
2 tsp olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano*
1 tsp dried thyme*
1 tsp dried rosemary*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

*I am liberal with the spices and usually add a bit more than a tsp of each

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat wit h a spoon as it cooks, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain off any fat and set pan back over medium heat.

Add oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper; stir to coat beef. Cook until herbs become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauce and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Spoon a small amount of beef-tomato mixture into bottom of a 4-quart casserole dish (just enough to cover surface); top with half of cooked ziti. Next, layer with half of remaining beef-tomato sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Layer with remaining ziti and then top with remaining beef-tomato sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

Servings: 8
Points Plus: 7

Linked to Prairie Story Recipe Swap Thursday and Shine Your Light Mangia Mondays.

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C + C Marriage Factory: September 2009

C + C Marriage Factory