Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Cooking Again! Okay, Just a Little Bit

I made mini crustless quiches yesterday, a recipe from my WLS blog friend Eggface.  She has about 50 variations of these little bites, as she calls them, but Sunday I made the Breakfast Bites. Each one has 45 calories and 3g of protein, and 3-4 make a serving, depending on what you’re having with them.  They’re full of eggs, swiss cheese, chopped ham, onions and ‘shrooms, baked in a mini muffin tin. It’s nice to have variety for meals and I’ve been getting sick of 2 oz of cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast.

She also has dozens and dozens of recipes for all kinds of foods that are WLS-safe but equally appealing to non-ops.  (The bites, for example, would be wonderful appetizers for a party.)  Next on my list to try is protein ice cream.    Or maybe the pizza bites. We’ll see.

I also made pudding yogurt, this time with a protein boost. I mixed a tub of plain non-fat yogurt with a box of instant sugar free vanilla pudding, one scoop of vanilla protein, and 4 TB of SF Torani gingerbread syrup.  I’ve made this stuff for years with just yogurt and pudding, but adding the protein powder kicks up the nutrition value without changing the taste.  The Torani syrup takes care of that, in a good way.  I went a little crazy ordering SF Torani flavors that I couldn’t find locally and am eager to try out.

I went out and about late morning to shop for a few things before the cold rain started – toys for the Toys for Tots drive at work, warm gloves & scarf for the Cold Weather Clothing drive, also at work, and some whey protein to give my nephew for Christmas.  It’s not the biggest size tub but I’m pretty sure he’ll appreciate it and at least it does fill up the “under the tree” space.

Most of my shopping is done, though I plan to pick up some things at the Union Square Christmas Fair in New York City this week on a day off.  Holding my breath that the weather behaves coz I don’t really want to mill around NYC in snow, rain or sleet.  Yes, I’m a wieather wimp.

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Attack of the Killer Peaches Poundcake

With local peaches ripe and yummy at farm stands and farmers markets, it seemed time to dust off this recipe. There is not one single WW thing about it except there’s fruit.   I got it at a convention in Atlanta over 20 years ago (along with a ripe peach) and have made it several times over the years.  It’s moist and yummy and is a good summer dessert to take to a picnic or potluck supper.  If you’re watching your weight, do not keep this in the house where you can nibble. Trust me.

PeachesAttack of the Killer Peaches Pound Cake

1 C. butter or margarine, softened
3 C. sugar
6 eggs
3 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 C. sour cream
2 C. peeled, chopped fresh peaches
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.  Cream together butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour, soda and salt in separate bowl. Mix together sour cream and chopped peaches.  Fold dry ingredients into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and peaches.  Stir in vanilla and almond extract.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 75-80 minutes or until cake tests done.

Makes one 10-inch cake.  Could probably make in a bundt pan but I’ve never done it.

Enjoy!


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Recipe: Crockpot Salsa Chicken

SparkRecipes is a wonderful site with recipes submitted by members with nutritional information for everything. It’s not Weight Watchers or any other plan but having the nutrition makes it easy to figure out points values (if that floats your boat) or other things to watch for such as lower fat, carbs, whatever.

One of the most popular recipes is for Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  I made it today, with some variations suggested by some of the people who made comments.  It was awesome and will be added as a regular option.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (approximately 1 1/4 lbs)
1/3 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning (or regular if you can’t find the reduced sodium)
1 C. fresh salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 C. fat free sour cream

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts in bottom and sprinkle with taco seasoning.  Pour salsa on top of that, followed by black beans and corn.  Top with cheddar cheese soup.  Leave in layers; do not mix.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken with a fork.  Turn off heat and stir in FF sour cream.  Serve over rice.

Yield:  5 servings, approx. 2/3 C. each = 5 points  (rice not included)
Supposed to be even better as leftovers, which could be folded into tortillas or turned into a quesadilla.


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Where do You Get Recipes?

Chef with head in cookbookWhen I was a kid, my mom cooked from her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, her collection of recipes  cut from women’s magazines such as Redbook, and her faithful wooden recipe box with recipes from friends and family.  But we mostly ate the same things, at least I don’t remember many complicated options.  Lots of plain meat, potatoes and veggies and the usual casseroles made with cream of chicken soup.

Now adays there are cookbooks out the whazoo for every narrow little sliver of cuisine.  My own collection includes almost all of the Weight Watchers cookbooks published in the last 4 years – although I confess I’ve only actually made a few of them, making them definitely not cost-effective purposes.  I have my own Better Homes & Gardens book and a variety of healthy food cooking options – not that I cook from most of them, either.  I like the pictures, though.

Mostly I get recipes from blogs and reading about things friends made, or by going to Epicurious, Recipezaar, and now Spark Recipes.  I like being able to plop in some ingredients I may have on hand and see what comes up – and I like being able to see the nutrition info at the same time.  Tho I try to look there last, because if I don’t like the ingredients or difficulty level enough, what difference would the nutrition make?

My favorite recipe of the last few months, the famous Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake,  came from the Food Network website.  I do look at recipes there when I watch my favorite FN stars show me how easily I can whip up a 4 course meal in just 3o minutes, show after show after show, but it’s not my usual go-to spot to find something to make.

Where do you go?


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Overdoing Cooking

Vegetable PeopleI got a bee in my bonnet this weekend to cook.  I haven’t really done this in a while, not like this.  And I have to admit that while it’s good for stocking the fridge with healthy stuff, it wasn’t the smartest thing for my shoulder, even though I tried to pace myself.  My knees aren’t too happy with extensive kitchen standing, either,  so pacing worked all the way around.

We were supposed to get a huge snowstorm on Saturday into Sunday, so the house was stocked with groceries delivered by Peapod (thank heavens for them – lots of wear and tear saved on the shoulder there by having food delivered right to the kitchen).   I had no plans other than trying to figure out how to get my car shoveled out after the snow.

On Saturday I chopped and roasted a big pile of green peppers and sweet onions, lightly tossing in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings.  They’re great for adding to almost everything – in soup, mixed with couscous, added to salads, as a side to scrambled eggs.  I also made a batch of sweet and sour red cabbage, using shredded cabbage, red onion, apples, vinegar and sugar.  I totally adore this dish, which we actually eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I like it better cold the next day when the flavors have melded more.

A friend stopped by just before the snow to bring me starter for Amish Friendship Bread, so I made that, too.  Don’t ask me why I thought this was a good idea, but it wasn’t hard and I put one loaf in the freezer and will slice the second to have with breakfast this week.   I have a few batches of starter doing their thing in baggies on the counter, just part of the general clutter.

Today’s big project (which isn’t that big, really) was roasting a chicken in the crockpot.  It’s incredibly easy, uses minimal ingredients, yields a ton of clean protein to eat in sandwiches or for dinner.  I especially like chopped chicken mixed with roasted veggies and couscous.  The drawback is that it makes a big mess, since the chicken basically falls off the bone.  It’s worth it, though. I also made a new recipe with sweet potatoes, crushed pineapple, and some brown sugar.  It’s yummy and I suspect I’ll make it again.

In the middle of all this, I went outside to check out the snow situation.  We didn’t get nearly as much as anticipated, which means we won’t believe the weather people the next time they predict a big storm.  It also meant I didn’t have to worry about much snow removal.  My car is in a carport so it doesn’t actually have to be shoveled out, but the plow does sometimes leave a pile behind it that can be a problem if left unattended.

So, um, I went out with a shovel and, using my LEFT ARM ONLY, pushed it out of the way.  Even that I could feel on the right side, and trust me, I’m not going to do it again soon.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have big storms on the horizon – not that I’ll believe the weather people anyway.

For now, I have clean clothes, a well stocked fridge, a content kitty, and a bag of frozen peas on my right shoulder.  I’m optimistic that it will be a good week, which will be improved considerably if our online system comes back online.  We lost almost 3 days last week, plus work done on Tuesday was lost completely when the system crashed before nightly backup.  Nothing we can do about it.  At least I have a tidy office!


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Individual Baked Pumpkin Custards

Just got this recipe from my former WW Leader Arlene, who is a wonderful cook.  Looks like something easy and delicious, and a nice alternative to pumpkin pie.  Hmmm, I think I’ll have to try this – I have everything in the house except the evaporated skim milk.  Let me know what you think if you make it.


Individual Baked Pumpkin Custards

Points value:  2
Servings: 8

The sweetness of these pumpkin custards is offset by a spiced yogurt topping. Each one comes in its own ramekin for easy portion control.

Ingredients

2 cans pumpkin, not pie mix.  Whisk the following with the pumpkin:

  • 4 large egg(s)
  • 4  egg whites
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon artificial sweetener , Splenda or real sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Topping

  • 16 oz fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon artificial sweetener, Splenda, or real sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole or ground cloves (optional)

Instructions

  • 325ºF oven
  • To make custard, spoon pumpkin into a large bowl; whisk in custard seasonings.
  • Place eight ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet; fill each ramekin about 3/4 full with custard. Bake for 20 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a knife in center of a custard cup – if it comes out clean, custards are finished. If not, bake for 5 minutes more and check again; repeat until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well and set aside. When custards are cool, top each with yogurt mixture and serve.
  • You can make the custards one day in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Top with yogurt mixture just before serving.


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Dijon-Roasted New Potatoes

Another tasty recipe from my friend and former WW leader Arlene in Boston. She is a fabulous cook and I know that anything she recommends is worth trying.  Bon appetite!

Dijon-Roasted New Potatoes

Core Recipe or 3 points for a 1 1/2 cup serving
Servings: 4 …doubles easily ..leftovers are terrific
Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 35 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Coating the potatoes with Dijon mustard and a small amount of olive oil helps make them crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Perfect with burgers, roasted chicken or steak.

Ingredients

* 1 sprays cooking spray
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
* 3/4 tsp paprika
* 1/4 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp table salt
* 1/4 tsp black pepper
* 1 1/2 pound uncooked new potatoes, quartered
* I used fresh thyme and chives/snipped..about 1 tsp of each

Instructions

* Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a 9- X 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
* In a large bowl, whisk together oil, mustard, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper; add potatoes and stir to coat.
* Transfer potatoes to prepared baking dish and roast 15 minutes; stir and roast until tender on inside, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

Notes:
If your potatoes do not get crispy enough, coat them with cooking spray and then bake them for a few more minutes. This worked really well.