Cranberry Brie Tartlets

So if I had a magic lamp and a blue genie with the voice of Robin Williams popped out, it might be incredibly difficult to come up with just 3 wishes. And you know the rules people – you can’t wish for more wishes!

Can you tell Aladdin was on last night?

Anyways, I think last week if I could have been granted any wish – it would probably have been to make the saying that “Holiday calories don’t count” true. I mean, two Thanksgivings in one day. Wine. Leftovers. And you know, pie. And leftover pie.

Oh, and it was my Mom’s birthday on Sunday – so the husband and I had my parents over for a special birthday dinner. Which of course involved more food. And dessert.

And now, we are about to enter December – which means endless holiday parties filled with delicious (and likely calorie-laden) foods. Lucky for you, I have a super easy and delicious recipe that will be a huge hit at your parties. The best part (other than it includes my favorite – Brie) is that it’s guilt free!

Cranberry Brie Tartlets (Makes 15 pieces/1 WW pt. per piece)

1 package mini fillo shells (15 shells per box)

1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce

1 tsp. orange zest

2 3/4 oz. light Brie

Mix together cranberry sauce and orange zest. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Preheat oven to 350. Place shells to baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

While shells are baking, remove rind from brie and divide into 15 pieces.

Reduce heat to 300 and add one piece of brie to each shell. Top with a dollop of cranberry mixture and return to oven for 6-7 minutes until cheese has melted.

Beware…these disappear very quickly!

Advertisements

Mustard Glazed Rack of Lamb

In case you haven’t quite figured it out, tomorrow is Thanksgiving! A time to hang out with family, stuff your face with turkey, stuffing, dressing, potatoes, casseroles, cranberry sauce and olives.

Oh, and I’m sure there will be pie. Just to make sure any extra room in your belly doesn’t have a prayer of staying that way!

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving – but as I’ve gotten older wiser, I’ve realized that there’s so much more to this time of year than food, food, time off work and leftover food. It’s about sitting back and taking it all in and realizing how good we have it. I am so fortunate and blessed and for some reason, I constantly find myself taking it all for granted. So as I curl up with one of my parents dogs on the couch tomorrow, eyelids fighting to see that beautiful RG3 touchdown to secure a win over the Cowboys, I will rest with a thankful and full heart, knowing that God has truly blessed me and my family.

Now, switching gears a little (but still counting my blessings!) today is a special day because 4 years ago on this very day – I went on my very last first date!

How crazy that walking into that restaurant, a bundle of nerves in a red peacoat, that I was meeting my future husband. We didn’t even eat dinner because we were both so nervous!

I am amazed each day at how perfect he is for me and I am so blessed to have found my better half, to have had a beautiful wedding surrounded by the love of our friends and family, and to know that whatever the future holds, we’re in it together.

You may recall that we recently celebrated our one-year anniversary and that I was preparing a special meal. Well, today, since we’re counting our blessings (and clearly NOT our calories this weekend) – I figured I’d share our celebratory dinner with you!

So now you can be thankful that I’m shutting up and moving on to the good stuff…

Mustard Glazed Rack of Lamb (Serves 2-3)

1 1/2 pound lamb rack, trimmed (your butcher will trim if it’s not already done!)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. black pepper

In a small bowl, add your mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and black pepper. Whisk until blended.

   

                                    

Now, using a silicon brush, spread the sauce over your lamb. Preheat oven to 400.

Allow lamb to marinate 30 minutes. Remove 10-15 minutes prior to cooking to bring to room temperature.

Place lamb, rib side down, in a roasting pan (might want some non-stick spray or some excess sauce will bake on!) and cook 30-40 minutes or until thermometer registers 130-140 (this is medium rare – medium is 140-150). Remove and cover with foil. Lamb will continue cooking, so anticipate temperature to go up another 5 degrees while resting.

If your glaze starts to brown like mine did, cover the pan with foil. I was a little distracted setting the table for our first fancy meal with all of our fine china and crystal – yay!

To cut the lamb, make sure you have a sharp serrated knife. Hold the rack by the bone and cut down into the meat. You’ll often have to crack the bone – so you might need to saw a little until it gives,

Slices into chops and plate. I find lamb to have such a rich flavor that usually 3 chops is plenty – especially when paired with a little brown butter risotto and roasted brussel sprouts!

So if you’re looking for a meal for a special occasion, I definitely recommend lamb! I was terrified the first time I made it, but it is seriously easy and allows you time to work on the side dishes while it’s marinating and cooking!

We were also fortunate enough to have some delicious butter pecan wedding cake for dessert – it was surprisingly good for having lived in a cardboard box and foil in the depths of our freezer for a year.

I hope you all have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving, whether you’re staying in a house full of people and devouring a 20 pound turkey or ordering pizza and watching the Friends marathon on TBS (in which case I might be a little jealous), remember to take a little time to reflect on all of the blessings in your life!

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I have a serious issue.

I mean beyond my fear of balloons (also known as “globophobia” – which means I am not alone!). And okay, I’m also overlooking the rage incited within me when somebody confuses the words “flavor” and “scent.” Yeah, let that one marinate for a minute..it’s maddening!

The issue I’m talking about is my love for all things buffalo-flavored.

You’d think I would have fun out of buffalo inspired recipes by now. You, my dear friend, would be wrong.

I also have an obsession with potato skins. I love potatoes in pretty much every form – but roasted until crispy and topped with cheese and bacon? Right, no words needed.

Clearly, not exactly the healthiest of choices – but in my defense, I usually order this “appetizer” as a main meal. I’ll be debating my selection and the husband will look up from his menu and be like “You’re ordering potato skins aren’t you?” Yes, over that delicious famous local burger or yummy spicy hot wings. Over hot wings people – that speaks volumes, does it not?

Well, I have finally found a way to combine my two loves – and the best part is that this recipe is healthy for either a main meal or a snack! It’s the perfect thing to enjoy while watching college football this weekend – or to snack on next week when you’re burnt out on turkey!

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins (2 WW pts. per skin with 1/2 Tbsp. Ranch dressing)

6 small russet potatoes

8 oz. raw chicken breast

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce

6 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Mix

6 Tbsp. fat-free Ranch dressing

Salt and pepper

Olive oil spray

Preheat your oven to 450.

Slice all of your potatoes in half. This will give you 12 halves. See? Math is fun!

Now scoop out the insides of your potatoes, leaving about 1/4 inch border to hold your filling and well, allow you to taste the potato. I used a melon baller to scoop since the potatoes are still raw.

Spray both sides of your potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. I sprinkled a little Ranch seasoning on the inside to give it a little extra boost of flavor – yum! Place skins on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until the potato flesh is tender and the skins are slightly crispy.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and add your chicken. When chicken is cooked (8-10 minutes is good) let chicken cool slightly and shred with 2 forks. Add about 2-3 Tbsp. hot sauce and mix well.

When your potato skins are cooked, remove from the oven and begin to assemble!

Add your shredded chicken and celery. Then add about 1/2 Tbsp. each of blue cheese crumbles and shredded mozzarella.

Return to oven for 5-7 minutes until cheese has melted.

Remove and drizzle remaining 2-3 Tbsp. hot sauce on potato skins. I also sprinkled with some dried chives due to lack of green onion, but that’s up to you!

Serve with some fat-free Ranch dressing for dipping and devour!

Try them while you’re rooting on your team this weekend…you won’t regret it!

Decision 2012 – What’s for Dinner?

I feel like there’s something big going on today…anybody else?

That’s right – it’s Election Day! I remember 4 years ago was my first time to actually vote at a poll location (the previous election I was in college out-of-state!) and there is just something about standing in line and voting in person that makes you feel proud to be a part of a process that makes our country great.

(I also remember 4 years ago texting back and forth with “some guy” as we were watching the results come in. At least we know how that one turned out, right?)

So today, my friends, presents you with a decision to make: What’s for dinner?

Okay, so maybe you have another decision to make today! But if you’re going to be standing in line after work or glued to the coverage on TV, the last thing you want is to be stuck in the kitchen. You need something quick!

Pizza! No, put the phone down. Just make your own – your waistline will thank you!

Recently, we had our first garage sale and I knew I’d be crazy busy and knew we needed a quick dinner the night before. On my grocery run, I ran across Canadian bacon and immediately had a craving for a Hawaiian pizza. Just something about the little bit of sweet from the pineapple combined with the salty, smoky flavor from the cheese and meat…yum! This pizza totally gets my vote! (I’m sorry, you know me – I couldn’t resist!)

Now, for the steps below I made my own wheat dough, which you can find the recipe for here – but if you want to make this a super quick meal like I did before the garage sale, just grab a pack of naan (an Indian flat bread) from your local grocery store. It’s the perfect size for a personal pizza! I like the Stonefire Whole Grain Naan when I don’t have time to make my own dough!

Homemade Hawaiian Pizza (serves 2 / 13 pts. per pizza)

1 batch wheat dough (or your favorite store-bought – make sure to adjust the points!)

1/4 cup Ragu pizza sauce

1/2 cup pineapple tidbits in juice, drained

1 cup reduced-fat shredded Mozzarella cheese (I was out of fat-free – if you use it, the points per pizza drops to 11 pts. per pizza!)

4 slices Canadian bacon, cut into small pieces

Olive oil spray

Garlic salt

Heat your oven to 375. Have your dough/prepared crust on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt.Next, add your pizza sauce – spreading out in a thin layer with a spoon.

Then, take your pineapple tidbits and arrange them evenly over your pizza(s). I like to make sure I’ll get a piece in almost every bite – buuut I’m also a freak. At least I own it.

Now, sprinkle your cheese on top of your pineapple.

Then add your Canadian bacon – again, arranging evenly over your pizza(s). We decided we liked this on the top instead of under the cheese so gets some direct heat!

Bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on the crust you use). I also let ours sit under the broiler for a minute or two to get good coloring on the cheese (ours maybe went a few seconds too long but there was a kitchen emergency as somebody spilled coffee granules EVERYWHERE!).

Now it’s time for the 3 S’s – Slice. Serve. Shove in your face.

So go stand in line and cast your vote today – cause you know dinner is taken care of!

Potato and Corn Chowder

Um, hi. It’s November. As in I won’t run screaming logging into Facebook for much longer because the election is over next week. As in Thanksgiving is in 3ish weeks. As in 53 days until Christmas.

But most importantly…we gain an hour of sleep this weekend!

If you didn’t know that, you’re welcome. If you did know that, isn’t it just nice to hear anyways?

This Fall has been so awesomely chaotic – but I’m ready for things to wind down a bit! I’m ready for enjoy the cold weather and turn our fireplace on! I’m ready for sweaters and boots and coats and festive decor!

So Wednesday, it was Halloween and it was time to get down to celebrating! The husband and I carved our pumpkins on Tuesday night…

…and on Wednesday, I was ready to whip up a yummy, healthy Fall dish for us to enjoy between the doorbell ringing.

Obviously it was a night for soup – so I merged a few recipes into a corn chowder that’s low on points. Hey, had to be good with all of that leftover Halloween candy hanging around…

Potato and Corn Chowder  (Serves 3 – 7 WW pts. per serving)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine (I use Blue Bonnet Light)

3 oz. Turkey kielbasa, diced (I use Jennie-O brand)

2 cups baby potatoes

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. Tabasco salt

1 can yellow corn, drained

2 cups fat-free milk

1 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

3 Tbsp. fat-free cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Add potatoes to a roasting pan and bake about 20 minutes until tender. You can always microwave them if you prefer – just pierce them before you do!

In a medium saucepan, melt your margarine. Add chopped onion and kielbasa and saute 3-5 minutes until onion is tender.

Add your canned corn and stir with onion and kielbasa. Sprinkle in your salt, pepper and add a few glugs of Tabasco. Stir well.

Next, add your potatoes. They should be tender and chopped into bite-sized pieces. If you don’t want to bother with the little potatoes, one large russet potato should suffice!

Pour in milk over potatoes. Add turmeric and stir well – it will give your chowder a beautiful golden color!

 

Now you can turn heat to medium-low and let the chowder come to a simmer. Probably check on it around the 7-8 minute mark. You don’t want to bring it to a boil because it’s milk – and well, boiled milk just sounds nasty!

Once it’s at a light simmer, add in your flour and stir well. You can also mash down a little on the potatoes to help thicken it up a little. Allow to come back to a light simmer and then reduce heat, cause you’re ready to dive in!

Pour into bowls and to each with 1 Tbsp. shredded fat-free cheddar.

Yup, it officially feels like Fall!