The Way to His Heart…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I don’t normally go all out for Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong – I like the sentiment…but I usually just cook a nice dinner, have some wine, exchange some cards and call it a day (although getting flowers never hurts). This year, however, is a little different – because I got to pick one of the sweet “husband” cards!

The husband and I have only been married a little over 4 months, but it makes me so happy to know that I have many more years ahead with my best friend. He is an incredible man and he is so good to me and I only hope I can make him as happy as he has made me. So a day dedicated to saying “I love you” when you’re in love can’t be bad, right?

Okay, saving the rest of the cheese for the recipe – I promise! =)

It didn’t take long for the husband to sample my cooking when we first started dating, as I loved cooking and well, I had often heard that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. Like, seriously. There are some other ways that can get you there, but they are like scenic routes.

So what is something my husband loves to eat? Hot wings! (Me too – could eat them all the time). What is something that is really hard to make diet-friendly? Hot wings!

Okay, so I do make diet-friendly hot wings – but they can be a little time-consuming – and sometimes I just don’t feel like making side dishes.

Enter buffalo chicken soup. That’s right people…I said it. I went there. Buffalo. Chicken. Soup.

If you’re looking for a super easy recipe that is action packed with flavor AND something you and your honey will love – look no further!

Buffalo Chicken Soup – serves 4

Starting Line-up

8 oz. ground chicken breast, cooked

1/2 Tbsp. margarine

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup carrot, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

2 cans, 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

3 cups skim milk

1/2 cup Frank’s red hot sauce (good, mild base – I add more for added spice!)

1/4 cup reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

Cook your chicken and crumble in a large pot. Set aside.

Add margarine to pot with celery, carrot and onion. Cook 5-7 minutes over medium-high until softened. Reduce heat to medium low and add chicken. Stir and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Pour in milk and stir, careful not to scald. Add sour cream and soup and whisk until smooth and blended. Now add in your hot sauce, which will give the soup a pretty pink-ish color!

Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook about 20-30 minutes, bringing to a light simmer. Careful not to boil! Taste and add more hot sauce if needed, or you can just add it to individual servings if you have two separate heat tolerances to appease!

Serve with 1 Tbsp. blue cheese crumbles on top. We also like to have a slice or two of french bread for dipping with ours!

See…the perfect way to “spice up” your Valentine’s Day!

I know…I know…I can’t control it sometimes…

Pulled Beef…Any Way You Want It!

Hopefully you have Journey stuck in your head now. For that, you are most certainly welcome.

So normally for the Super Bowl, I am cooking up a storm. This year, as I mentioned in a previous post, we played it low-key. But I couldn’t watch the game without making something tasty to go along with it even if my team lost! I have been a long time fan of a certain food blogger many of us know and love…and she featured a recipe that just screamed “game day food” to me – slow cooked pulled pork.

Oddly enough, living in a city that prides itself on barbecue (of the pork variety) – there was no pork shoulder available in my grocery store. So after pacing the aisles and having the hubby quite annoyed at my lack of a back-up plan, I just went for the beef roast. And I must say it did not disappoint!

Spicy Pulled Beef (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

The Starting Line-Up

2-3 pounds beef roast (mine was choice beef chuck boneless english roast)

1/2 yellow onion

4 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

8 fl. oz. Dr. Pepper

1/3 cup barbecue sauce (not pictured, would add this next time)

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. Pepper

1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt

1/4 tsp. Smoked Paprika

Serves 8-10 depending on size of roast.

Season both sides of the roast with salt, pepper, garlic salt and smoked paprika. I gave each side a light dusting of each and pressed it into the meat. If desired, trim some of the fat from the outside (fewer points and there is still plenty in the roast for flavor).

Turn your slow cooker on low and set for 7-8 hours. Chop your onion half into large pieces and scatter on bottom of slow cooker. Add roast on top. Pour chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on top (note: I used about 6 ounces in the photos and it was just too spicy – and I have a pretty high spice tolerance!). Pour barbecue sauce on top of the roast and then pour Dr. Pepper over the top.

Place lid on slow cooker and cook 6-7 hours on low setting, flipping every 1 1/2 hours. At about 6 hours, I cranked it up to high for about an hour to get the meat really tender so that it was easy to shred (we were competing with an exciting game AND commercials) – but I’m sure it would be fine leaving it longer on low if you’re making this while you’re at work or something! Once beef is tender, turn slow cooker off and remove meat, setting aside on a deep baking sheet for shredding.

Take two forks and shred, shred, shred! Skim any fat off the top of the liquid in the slow cooker, and return the meat to the liquid. Set slow cooker to warm.

Now here’s what’s great about this recipe – there are so many options at this point! My dad and mom made sandwiches with the shredded beef topped with cheese. The hubby and I made tacos with shredded cheese, lettuce and tomatoes (well, he didn’t have tomatoes, I did).

 

For leftovers – we had shredded beef with mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. I really want to try the shredded beef on a baked potato with some sharp cheddar and extra barbecue sauce drizzled on top. Anyway you want it…that’s the way you EAT it.

(I’m honestly laughing at the rest of the parody to the song I am now singing in my head. It’s a gift I tell you!)

Orange Chicken with Fried Rice

So do you have a type of food that you are rarely in the mood for, but when you are, watch out? No? Just me?

There are some foods I think I could eat for every meal – like sushi. But for some reason, Chinese food rarely sounds good to me. Then, I met the husband, who could actually do those Chinese buffets that just eek me out. He loves Chinese food…and Mexican, another one of my “rare craving” cuisines. (Pizza is always good for both of us though…of course.)

Well – when I started Weight Watchers – it was a lot of chicken and seafood and ground turkey. Nothing wrong with those, but afterd a while it was time to branch out and get really “freaky” – I decided to make Chinese food. And guess what I discovered – when I know what’s in a dish and I make it myself, I friggin love Chinese food!

So now it’s a staple and once you have all of the ingredients, it’s super simple and super delicious!

Orange Chicken for 2:

8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. pickled ginger, minced

1 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce

1 tsp. Sriracha (or more if you like an extra kick!)

1 Tbsp. orange zest (about 1 medium orange)

2 1/2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice (about 1/2 a medium orange)

2-3 ounces snow peas

1 Tbsp. peanut oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, chili garlic, Sriracha, orange zest and orange juice. Chop the chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and add to liquid. Marinate about 1 hour.

Once chicken has marinated, heat 1 Tbsp. peanut oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, reserving as much of the liquid as possible. Cook 3-4 minutes before flipping. Add remaining liquid and snow peas. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-12 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the liquid has thickened into a sauce.

Now for the fried rice…

Vegetable Fried Rice for 2:

1/4 cup egg beaters

1/4 Tbsp. reduced calorie margarine

1/2 medium carrot, diced

2 Tbsp. yellow onion, diced

3 Tbsp. soy sauce (you can always use reduced sodium or reduce to 2 Tbsp. if desired)

1 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. frozen green peas, thawed

1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 1/2 cup cooked white rice

Coat a wok (or large skillet) with non-stick spray and heat to medium. Add egg beaters, swirling around to get a very thin layer of cooked egg. Once it is no longer runny – use a rubber spatula to scrape and break into small pieces. Set aside in a small bowl.

Now add margarine, carrots, onions and garlic and cook until tender – about 5 – 7 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add rice, sesame oil, black pepper, and green peas. Cook 2-3 minutes before adding in soy sauce. Stir well until all of the rice has the “brownish” color to it. Add in egg and stir until it is incorporated.

Serve rice with orange chicken and enjoy!

Bring on the fortune cookies!

Parmesan Green Bean Casserole

Let’s face it folks…sometimes you just don’t have fresh, crisp veggies to pair with your meals. You may think you have veggies in your “crisper” drawer…only you find that they aren’t magic vegetables that have survived 3 weeks in said drawer.

I know, sad face.

Personally, I really enjoy canned french cut green beans. I like them with just a little spray butter, salt and pepper. I like them with crispy onion straws on top.

But my favorite? Sorry (again) to my sister…is with cheese. Duh.

What’s great about this recipe is that it is so easy to throw together and serve it up immediately or you can stick it in the oven if the whole meal timing thing isn’t your forte. It’s also delicious, but I hope you know I’m not going to share a recipe with you that I find repulsive.

So here’s the starting line-up:

Parmesan Green Bean Casserole (for 2)

8 oz. can french cut green beans (it’s the adorable can)

2 oz. fat-free cream cheese

3 Tbsp. skim milk

2 Tbsp. grated reduced fat parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp. garlic salt

1/8 tsp. salt

Add green beans to a small bowl and cook for about 1 minute in the microwave. Drain liquid and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat milk and cream cheese over medium-low heat. When cream cheese has softened, add Parmesan cheese, salt and garlic salt. Whisk until smooth.

I love my tiny little whisk!

Add the green beans to the cheese mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. Serve immediately or add to casserole dish and transfer to oven.

I had this alongside my Chicken Parmesan paired with some whole wheat spaghetti…and a glass of wine, of course.

Let Me See That Super Bowl

I absolutely adore football – like seriously love it and actually understand and watch it – not just an excuse to get dressed up and tailgate (which I don’t think will ever make sense, but I digress). I love advertising – heck, I got a degree in it! And cooking…well, hello if you’re here then I think we know the answer to that.

So what does this all mean? Well my friends, today is a day when some of my favorite things happen to intersect – it’s Super Bowl Sunday! A great game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots (woo hoo) + yummy and delicious finger foods.

Add in awesome commercials created by some of the greatest minds in the business and you have one happy Mary! You do NOT want to miss anything from your prime spot on the couch!

This year, we’re playing it a little low key since I had been assuming my husband would be studying for his test (He flew in my friend Erin for my birthday last weekend – so he pushed back his studying a week so we could have some “us” time this weekend!). Yup – he’s a keeper!

Now…while I like my football and do not have to find other things to entertain me today (although the Puppy Bowl is pretty darn tempting – so many cute flufferkins running around!) – I will give my non-football loving ladies a tip.

His name is Tom Brady and he is why you need to invest in a high def big screen television. He is not the sole reason I will be cheering for the Patriots, but he is the best looking one (even with the nasty long hair)

ANY WHOO – here I am,quite unprepared to give you all of the recipes I’d be making if I were throwing a party – but I will not send you away empty handed! This is my favorite chili recipe that is perfect for today – because you can throw everything in your slow cooker before the game so that it’s ready to dish out at halftime. Low maintenance baby – gone are the days of making a chowder that involved me peeling 5 pounds of potatoes during the 2nd quarter.

Turkey Beer Chili – Serves 10-12

2 pounds of extra lean ground turkey, cooked and crumbled

1 pound Italian turkey sausage, “hot” – cooked and sliced

2 cans mild chili beans, drained

2 can chili beans in hot sauce, 1 drained, one not

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 medium celery stalks, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 whole jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1 Tbsp. bacon bits

4 cubes beef boulion

6 oz. beer

1/4 cup chili powder

1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

4 tsp. Tabasco sauce (or less if your spice tolerance is low!)

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. sugar

Fat free shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (you can also use baked tostitos and fat free sour cream…you know, if you like sour cream as a garnish. I can try to withhold my judgment.)

Begin by cooking your meats. I like to cook the sausage on the grill and then slice it when it has cooled – but you can also cook in a skillet if it’s too frigid for grilling (or, if you’re my sister and you need lessons on how to embrace the grill)! I cut about 1/4 inch thick slices. Cook your ground turkey in a skillet.

Now slice your vegetables (onion, celery, green and red bell pepper, jalapenos) and put in a large bowl. Measure all of your dry seasonings (chili powder, oregano, cumin, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, sugar)  and set in a large bowl as well.

Get your big mama of a slower cooker out. This tastes best when cooked at least 2 hours…but the more time it cooks, the better the flavors. If you only have 2-3 hours – use the high setting. If you have 4+ hours, use the low setting.

Add the meats, beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire, hot sauce and beer. Add boulion cubes and bacon bits. Now add your chopped veggies and dry seasonings. Stir until everything is blended well. Cover and let it cook. Check with about 30 minutes left to stir and taste to see if you need any additional seasoning.

Serve with cheese and any “other” garnishes you prefer.

Now how could Super Bowl Sunday not be incredible…

  

In the beginning…

I honestly can’t even explain how excited I am to FINALLY be starting a blog! I am sure those of you reading it know me through my parents, sister or husband – so thank you for your support. I will try to keep your interest by posting new and delicious things!

So first off comes one of the first recipes I made when I started losing weight – Chicken Parmesan. It’s quick and easy and delicious – really, what’s not to like? (Also great with eggplant if you want a veggie version!)

Lightened Up Chicken Parm for 2

2 thin-cut chicken breasts (about 6 oz. total weight)

1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp. water

1/8 cup plain bread crumbs

1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese, reduced fat

1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 cup “Light” spaghetti sauce (I use Ragu Lite)

1 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (2% or fat free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a large dish, mix together bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Mix until blended well.In a bowl, beat egg with water until combined.

Line up egg, crumb mixture and a lightly greased baking pan. Pat chicken breasts dry and dip in egg. Move chicken breast from egg to bread mixture – gently pressing the crumbs into the chicken on both sides. Then place in pan and repeat with remaining breast.

Bake chicken in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Lightly grease a baking dish and add sauce (I often add a little garlic salt and oregano to kick it up a notch). Place baked chicken breasts on top of the sauce and sprinkle each with  1/2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan and divide the shredded mozzarella between the two.

Return to the oven for 15 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

I love serving this with a side of whole wheat spaghetti and my special green bean casserole – which I will post at a later date!

Hope you enjoy!