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!

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Mexican Dip

Um, so here’s the deal. I love making appetizers and party food – I think I could eat finger foods for meals 5 days out of the week and be perfectly content!

One of my favorite “party food” recipes (read: super easy) is a Mexican Dip my mom passed along to my sister and I. It’s seriously easy and is always a big hit. I am pretty sure it’s the first thing to disappear at any gathering.

So for our 4th of July celebration (which we held on Tuesday, because who wants to go to work after a night of celebrating?) my husband really wanted to make some pulled pork and have tacos. I know, tacos for the 4th sounds crazy, right? But it was a fun little food theme and nobody really seemed to mind. Especially when I busted out the Mexican Party Dip. This recipe is so easy to “lighten up” by using fat-free cream cheese, turkey chili, fat-free cheddar and some baked Tostitos!

Mexican Party Dip (Serves 8-10)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 can of Hormel No-Bean Chili

2-3 Tbsp. chopped yellow onion

2 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno (I use the jarred kind opposed to fresh)

14 oz. Pace Picante sauce

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Take a medium, but fairly deep, baking dish and spread cream cheese in a layer, covering the entire bottom of the dish. I use a spoon to make sure it’s pressed up against the sides, creating a seal.

Pour chili over the cream cheese and spread evenly with a spoon.

Sprinkle chopped onions and jalapeno over the chili.

Pour Picante sauce on top – you don’t need a whole jar, maybe 3/4 – just enough to create a layer and cover the jalapenos and onions.

Now sprinkle the cheese on top of the salsa and you’re ready to bake.

Place dish in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and dip begins to bubble.

Remove, scoop with chips and devour!

Now, what usually happens when I make dishes for a party to put on my blog is that I get a lot of great pictures of the process. Then I cook the food. Then I put the food out. Then I forget to take a picture. Then I’m left with this to show you…

At least the dip being demolished shortly after coming out of the oven is a testament to how delicious it is! So try it soon – you won’t regret it!

Happy Friday the 13th everybody!

I’m a Guest Blogger!

Hey everybody – happy Friday!

I have a very special treat for you today – my dear friend Brittany over at “Everyday Thoughts” asked for me to do a guest blog for her “Foodie Friday” today and I was more than happy to oblige!

Brittany and I on my wedding day!

Brittany and her husband live in Atlanta and although we met as college football rivals (I’m Penn State, she’s that other Big 10 school in Ohio), we grew to be great friends and I miss having my partner in crime right down the street!

So, hop on over to her site for one of my favorite appetizers to make – a grilled sausage and cheese plate. While you’re there, check out some of her great posts on food, fashion and general musings!

The “after” picture – woops!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

The word of the day is exhaustion!

It’s NBA playoff time and my Memphis Grizzlies are in the middle of a series with the L.A. Clippers. The game Monday night ended up starting at about 7:40 L.A. time…which means it was 9:40 here. Oh, and it went into overtime. Which means yours truly finally went to bed (feeling very depressed after a loss) around 1 a.m.

Coffee was a necessity Tuesday morning. Even more so than usual.

So I’m fading right now (as I write this Tuesday evening) and the sun isn’t even down yet – but have no fear, I have a delicious and diet-friendly recipe to share with you!

Have you ever used spaghetti squash? It’s kind of awesome. You cook it – and it smells awesome. But then you just scrape at it with a fork and it shreds into strands that look like spaghetti.

Soooo I mixed mine with onions, sour cream and cheese and called it a main dish. It was “Meatless Monday” in our house – and man, was it delicious!

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin (Serves 2-4)

1 medium spaghetti squash

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp. margarine

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

2/3 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375.

Using a very sharp knife, cut spaghetti squash in half. I start on one side, gradually working my way down and around the squash until it comes apart. Scoop out seeds.

                                  

Sprinkle black pepper and garlic salt inside the flesh and place in a deep baking pan, flesh side down. Bake 20-25 minutes. Then flip and bake another 20 minutes until tender. Let cool.

While squash is baking, saute onions in margarine with garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook until tender. Set aside.

Now take your cooled squash and begin scraping the flesh with a fork – it will shred really easily. I got about 3 cups of shredded “spaghetti”. Add to a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.

Remove paper towels – leaving squash. Add sour cream, onion mixture, 1/3 cup cheese and salt. Mix well.

Pour into a medium to large, lightly greased baking dish.

Top with remaining 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese has melted.

This would make a great side dish – but like I said, this was our dinner for “Meatless Monday” – so we dug in!

Since we were making a meal of it, I went ahead and added half a petite baguette and a glass of red wine.

Seriously, try it. You won’t be sorry!

Taco Won Tons

So the husband and I have been on a huge Mexican food kick lately.

I am normally a total Mexican food snob – I don’t like the “hole in the wall” type places – but lately I’ve learned, some of them tend to have the best food and are incredibly and deliciously authentic. Previously it was hard for me to determine authentic since all I ordered were quesadillas and cheese dip!

I also think our two amazing trips to Mexico (one being our honeymoon) probably expanded my horizons quite a bit! I’m still not a huge fan of the rice or beans though – and I  am actually quite disgusted by re-fried beans.

However, the spices used in Mexican food and fresh avocados have definitely been game changers. And being introduced to chorizo. And obviously, melted cheese.

Also, throw in an ice-cold cerveza or margarita and I am one happy lady!

So for Cinco de Mayo, I knew we were going out later for Mexican – but I wanted to make something “light” for lunch that was also festive. Enter Taco Won Tons. I made them for lunch, but it was more testing out an “appetizer” – and I could totally see this one being a hit during the summer! A little spicy, pretty substantial, and goes great with a Corona or well, anything involving tequila. (I know, what doesn’t – right?)

The best part? These are 1 WW point per item. You. Are. Welcome.

Taco Won Tons (Meal – serves 2; Appetizer – serves 4-6 or more if doubled)

4 oz. extra lean ground beef (I used 94% lean)

2 Tbsp. yellow onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. green bell pepper, chopped

3 3/4 oz. fat-free refried beans

2 Tbsp. shredded fat-free cheddar

1/2 Tbsp. ketchup

3/4 tsp. chili powder

3/4 tsp. taco seasoning

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. hot sauce (optional – we didn’t use but put a few dashes on top of won tons)

12-16 won ton wrappers

1/2 cup taco sauce

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef with onions and bell pepper.

Once beef is cooked through, scoop into a medium bowl. Add cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning.

Add your cheese, refried beans, ketchup and hot sauce. Mix until everything is incorporated.

Now, take your won tons and place one on a plate. Spoon about 1/2-3/4 Tbsp. in the center of each wrapper. Dip a pastry brush in water and spread a light amount over the edges of half the wrapper.

Fold “dry” half over on top of “wet” half and press together. Using the tip of a fork, press into the edges to “crimp” and ensure a good seal. (It also looks pretty!)

Repeat with all of mixture and add to baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and bake 5-7 minutes on one side. Flip and bake another 5 minutes until edges are lightly browned and won tons are crisp.

Serve with taco sauce for dipping – and devour!

So I’ve had these for lunch, and now I want to make them as an appetizer. First, I’d probably have to have a party though. Surely I can come up with a reason…

 

 

 

Bacon-Cheese Chicken

So it’s the beginning of the month aaaand I am in desperate need of a grocery run. But the playoffs are on tonight – so I needed to get home and cook something quick!

I had some chicken and was trying to think of something new to do with it. But my brain is fried – so I really couldn’t come up with anything. I was ready to just do the good old standby of Georgia Baked Chicken. But when I opened the fridge, I saw cheese. And bacon.

So why not throw those on top of some chicken?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Evil. Genius.

Bacon-Cheese Chicken (serves 2)

2- 4 oz. chicken breasts

2 tsp. smoked paprika (regular works too)

2 Tbsp. chicken broth

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

3 slices turkey bacon, cooked

1/4 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

Heat a medium skillet to medium. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with paprika.

Cook chicken in skilled for 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly browned on each side. Add chicken broth to pan to keep chicken from drying out and cook another 5-7 minutes, flipping chicken once.

Once chicken is cooked through, spread 1 tsp. Dijon mustard on tops of each.

Then, break apart pieces of bacon to coat the top of the chicken.

Top the bacon with cheese.

Cover the skillet and turn heat to low. Once cheese has melted, you’re ready to serve.

This was just a quick dish to throw together – and it’s also healthy too. If you use the ingredients as stated above, we’re talking 5 WW points for a chicken breast.

Like I said, evil genius…

Spinach Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

It’s Friday. That means it’s the weekend! I only have to remind myself of this because I woke up Wednesday and thought it was Saturday…and I can’t even blame NyQuil!

Normally I try to throw some faux bar food your way on Fridays…but this was just so good that I had to share with you so that you could break out your grill and try this while you’re busy making deviled eggs for Easter Sunday!

Speaking of which – what is everybody making for Easter? We are splitting up duties this year…I think we had to talk my mom into letting us help so the entire meal wasn’t all on her! She’ll be doing ham, scalloped potatoes and her amazingly delicious popovers! (As long as my dad doesn’t open up the oven to “see what’s in there” – they always turn out great!). My Biffer is making a delicious green bean and corn casserole and a mandarin orange salad.

I’m in charge of deviled eggs (WW friendly people, it’s all about the fat-free mayo and the right seasoning!). I’ve also volunteered myself for the dessert. That scares me – since, you know, I’m not a huge fan of baking! Any delicious Easter dessert recipe ideas? I’m thinking some sort of strawberry delicacy – I’m sure whatever I make, I’ll share with you (as long as it doesn’t turn out horribly).

Anyways, with the beautiful weather we had this past weekend, grilling was on my mind. Not desserts. But I needed something that didn’t require a lot of marinating time or hovering – I had been shopping all day and was just plain exhausted! =)

Good thing I picked up a pork tenderloin at the store! This recipe is great because you can start it off in the oven and then transfer it to the grill and it really takes no maintenance at all! Just a few ingredients and you have a delicious dish that is sure to impress – especially since it’s WW friendly!

Spinach Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (serves 2-3)

1 pre-packaged Hormel Always Tender Pork Tenderloin, original (about 1 pound)

4 oz. frozen chopped spinach

2 wedges Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese

1 oz. fat-free feta cheese

3-4 Tbsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove tenderloin from package and rinse.

Preheat oven to 350.

Sprinkle with chili powder, rubbing to completely coat the entire tenderloin.

Slice tenderloin about 3/4 of the way through.

Cook spinach in microwave until warm. Add cheese wedges to a small bowl and add hot spinach, stirring to melt cheese and incorporate.

Add your garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then throw in your feta. Mix well.

Spoon spinach mixture into the center of the tenderloin. Secure with a few toothpicks.

Bake for 20 minutes in the oven. In the meantime, heat your grill to medium.

Transfer tenderloin to the grill and cook for another 20 minutes.

I threw some corn on the cob and potato slices on with the tenderloin, did not have to dirty up many dishes for this feast!

Remove from grill, cover and let stand about 5 minutes.

Slice and serve with your sides and an ice-cold beer. It’s a super easy, low-maintenance dish that is pretty much great with anything – just don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Easter everybody!