Cheddar Ale Chowder

I love soup – like seriously love soup. So many varieties. Some people think that soup is only good when it’s cold out – but I disagree. I think it’s good any time of year. It’s good for the soul…

You know what else is good any time of year? Well, I’m sure a lot of things – like shoe shopping. Or chocolate. But I’m thinking beer. In the Fall for watching football. In the Winter for celebrating the holidays with friends and family. In the Spring and Summer with baseball and outdoor festivals. Mmmm I can almost smell the Pronto Pups.

So mixing the flavor of a delicious ale into a soup was something I had to do. And heck, why not throw some vegetables in there. Okay okay, some cheddar cheese too.

Yes kids, I’m talking about a Cheddar Ale Chowder…that won’t kill your waistline in case you’re prepping for some time on the beach around the corner!

Cheddar Ale Chowder (serves 2)

1 1/2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/4 small onion, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1 cup skim milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

6 fl. oz. beer

1/3 cup frozen corn kernels

3/4 cup diced potato, cooked

3/4 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

1 slice turkey bacon, cooked

Spray a medium saucepan with non-stick spray and heat, melting margarine and add onions. Cook 3-5 minutes. Add milk and stir. Gradually add flour and whisk to blend. Continue to stir mixture until it begins to thicken.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add in Worcestershire, mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Whisk and cook 5-7 minutes.

Now, pour in your beer. Oh no, you didn’t use it all? Whatever shall you do?! 😉

Stir in the beer. Now, add your corn and your (already cooked) potatoes. You don’t want to boil this enough to cook potatoes because of the milk – so cooked potatoes are a must.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Yes, your kitchen smells good right now.

Final step  – add the cheese. Stir it in until it’s melted, about 3-5 minutes.

Serve and add the bacon garnish…

…and maybe wash down with a cold beer, if you’re into that kind of thing!

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This is Amore

Are you now channeling Dean Martin and singing about pizza pie? Can you guess the theme of the recipe I’m sharing today?

The husband and I love hot wings. And we love pizza. Again, things that are not so great for you when you’re trying to shed a couple of pounds.

When I started Weight Watchers 2 years ago, my major concern was depriving myself of things that I really enjoy eating. And being cranky about it. And snapping. Like “I haven’t eaten a cheeseburger in 4 months and I look so great…but I am going to walk into that fast food restaurant ,drop some ‘bows on children, hop the counter, shove down 12 cheeseburgers and 5 orders of fries. And a diet coke, because duh, I’m on a diet!”

So I found a way to make the diet work for me – not me work for the diet. And it makes me more child friendly too.

I simply found ways to make the things I craved. One day, going through my recipe box of some family recipes, I stumbled upon a soup I remember LOVING as a kid that my mom made. Hm. I modified it a little, plugged it in to my recipe builder and told the husband – “I’m going to make us pizza soup.”

He drooled a little. He loves pizza – I mean, we all do – but he reallllly loves it. And now – he reallly loves pizza soup! (Still not as much as regular pizza…but it’s up there!)

I forgot how amazing this was – so now I’m sharing the amazingness with you. Make this. Make a bunch of it and have some leftovers at lunch. Your co-workers will be jealous. And then you can share it with them – if you’re feeling generous.

Pizza Soup (makes 4 bowls…aka serves 2, wink wink)

8 oz. ground extra lean turkey breast (or ground beef or ground chicken)

1 can Campbell’s Minestrone soup

14 oz. jar pizza sauce

14 oz. water

Turkey pepperoni (I use about 30 slices)

5-6 dashes Tabasco, more if you dare (we do)

4 Tbsp. shredded fat-free mozzarella

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your saucepan to medium. Cook turkey, breaking into crumbles as you go. Drain if needed. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add your pizza sauce. Then, refill the jar with water and add water to saucepan. Stir to combine.

Add the can of Minestrone soup, stir to combine. Add Tabasco sauce, salt (about 1/4 tsp.) and pepper (about 1/8 tsp.) and stir.

Slice your pepperoni into halves and quarters (I do about 15 each way) and add pepperoni to the saucepan. Mix well and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes until bubbling, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Serve soup and top each bowl with 1 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella.

Yes, that’s it. A meal that is warm, delicious, filling and ready in about 30 minutes.

Now THAT is Amore.

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…