Monday, November 29, 2010

Red Beans & Rice

Since we've spent almost 16 hours combined in the car in about a week, I used the time to purge my magazines.  I had a large stack to flip through, so I tore out recipes that looked good and put them all in a binder once we got home.  If I get around to cooking the recipe and it flops, I'll toss it.  If not, then I guess it's a keeper.

The first recipe I tried ended up being a keeper.  I'd post the Weight Watchers points value, but they changed their whole system.  I'm not sure if I like it...but I will have to give it a try.  I mean, I paid for 3 months when I started.  :-)

Slower Cooker Red Beans & Rice adapted from Southern Living
  • 1 lb dried red beans
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3/4 lb smoked turkey sausage, sliced thin
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 1 T creole seasoning
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
Chop the peppers, onion & celery.  Add all ingredients to a slow cooker with 7 cups of water.  Cook on high for 7 hours, or until the beans are tender.  Serve over cooked rice.

Updated 3/2/11 - I did the WW PointsPlus calcuation for this and if you get 8 servings (should be easy - it made quite a bit) then you're looking at 6 PP for the red beans plus whatever rice you add.  1 cup cooked brown rice is 5 PP, but 1/2 a cup (3 PP) is more than enough for a serving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I guess it is not like riding a bike.

I can't tell you the last time I baked something that wasn't an entree.  I remember baking cookies before Cooper arrived.  Since then...I'm not even sure I've made anything that sort of resembles dessert.  I've had good intentions - I wanted to bake kolaches as a joke for a friend.  I would have baked a cake for my coworkers birthday, but he requested Baskin Robbins.  And who am I to argue over Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream?

So I really can't remember baking anything since last Christmas.  I felt like Tuesday night was amateur hour in my kitchen.  I planned on baking two Pumpkin Rolls.  And that's where it all went south.  I didn't have enough sugar.  Ok, no big deal...I'll make one Pumpkin Roll and a batch of Pumpkin Pie Bites.  Except I didn't have pie crust.  Because I'm not a pie person.  They usually why bother?  Never fear, I had a box of phyllo dough in the freezer from, well, a while ago.  Only you're supposed to thaw it out for 5 freaking hours in the fridge!  I took a risk and popped it in the microwave on defrost, rolled them out, had Jason cut out little circles (it tooks some elbow grease) and baked away.

But that's not everything.  Major fail 2: running out of powdered sugar.  WTF!  I clearly remember having about 15 bags of powdered sugar in my pantry at one time because I kept forgetting I had it and bought more.  Apparently that was a long time ago.  Jason was nice enough to run to the store so I could make the Pumpkin Roll filling.

Major Fail 3: it turned out more like donut glaze.  I am still not 100% sure what happened.  First, let me back up.  The cake baked funky and I had to slice off a few inches.  Jason was happy to "test" them out though.  I kept telling myself "I can make this work" but I just couldn't figure out the filling!  I think it is probably because I used fat free cream cheese, but still.  Of course, if I'd had my head on I would have realized that I just needed to keep adding powdered sugar to thicken it up.  Instead I to started pouring the filling on the cake and that crap went everywhere.  I had glaze all over the counter.  I tried rolling the cake and more glaze went on the counter.  In the end I just wrapped it up quickly and put it in the fridge.  I'm going to pour the rest of the glaze on top and serve it that way.  It tastes good...but it just wasn't that pretty.

I think I need to practice baking more often.  Especially considering I'm doing Cooper's birthday cake next week.  This could get ugly.

Pumpkin Pie Bites adapted from Bakarella
  • 1 box phyllo dough
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350.  Roll out about 6 sheets of phyllo dough and cut circles with a cookie cutter, about 4".  Press the dough into a greased mini-muffin pan.  Combine all of the remaining ingredients.  Pour about 1 T in each cup and bake 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Pasta

A few weeks ago I flipped through a magazine at my mom's house.  I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Pasta and it sounded pretty good.  To me.  Jason made this gagging noise when I told him about it.  But, being the good boy he is, he agreed to try it...and order pizza if needed.

Last week I picked up the stuff at the grocery store was approved.  We adjusted the recipe a little bit, but next time I make it I'd really like to try sticking with the way it was written.  I doubled the amount of sausage and added more pasta, so it wasn't quite as pumpkiny.  And the second night I added in more seasoning - mostly pepper and a little oregano.

Pumpkin Pasta
  • 8oz Italian Sausage (I used 16oz sweet Italian turkey sausage)
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 8 oz rotini pasta (I used whole wheat)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Saute the sausage until brown in a little oil.  Add in the chopped sage leaves, saute for another minute.  Stir in 1 cup of pasta water and the pumpkin.  Drain the pasta and toss everything together.  As mentioned, I added in some salt & pepper, plus a little oregano, for some added flavor.  It has a creamy texture - almost like penne a la vodka without the tomatoes.

WW PointsPlus: 8 PP per serving, 4 servings

Monday, November 8, 2010

French Onion Soup...or so I thought

My favorite soup soup is French Onion from Panera Bread.  I could probably eat this every day for lunch.  But Panera Bread is expensive, people.  $10 for half a sandwich and a cup of oh-so-yummy soup on a daily basis just won't fly around my house.  And unfortunately we don't have a Panera Bread close to work so I can't justify that as my less than once weekly lunch out.

The temps here finally dropped (we ran the heater this weekend!) and I figured it was a perfect time to try the soup.  Especially since we're climbing back into the mid-80's later this week.  Ugh.  To stick with my diet, I searched and found a recipe on Weight Watchers.

French Onion Soup adapted from
  • 1 T butter
  • 3 vidalia onions, cut in half and sliced thin (I used sweet yellow)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 t dried thyme
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese (2 T per serving)
Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add the onions, sauteing about 20 minutes.  Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer 20-30 minutes.  If you have oven safe soup bowls, you can scoop the soup into a bowl with a serving of your favorite baguette and the cheese, melting it under the broiler for a few minutes.  The recipe above makes 4 servings at 3 points each, however add points for the bread.

Now here is where I'm unsure.  I wasn't a fan of the recipe.  I was bland.  Like really bland.  I added more spices.  And more pepper.  And  I just didn't like it.  Jason did, but I wanted it to taste exactly like the soup from Panera.  And it didn't.  So tonight I'm going for round two.  We consumed most of the broth (what wasn't soaked up by onions) and I have a ton of onions left.  I'm going to toss them back into the cast iron skillet and saute them until they are really brown and caramelized.  Then I'm going to add in beef broth and not vegetable broth.  And...we'll see.  Wish me luck.