Sunday, February 27, 2011

Trio of Sauteed Peppers - 1 point

It was a rather gloomy day in Middle Tennessee - filled with clouds, rain, and tornado warnings. My students were quite brave and well behaved while cowering in the hall during the warning. Still, with all of the stormy spring weather, I was feeling quite anxious for summer. Here is a recipe with lovely summer colors that will make you feel as if warmer, calmer weather is just around the corner.

Trio of Sauteed Peppers from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes
1 tsp olive oil
2 small onions, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/4 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and peppers; saute three minutes.
2. Add seasoning and continue to saute for 2 more minutes, or until peppers begin to feel tender.
3. Yields 4, 1 point servings

I finished reading the book How to Raise a Reader by Elaine K. McEwan. It thought it was good for the most part. There were several sound suggestions for working with your children from birth through middle school; including suggestions for library trips, book lists, and the idea of reading as a family following dinner.  I shared some of the information with the parents of my students. There were parts of the book with which I disagree (she seems to imply that multiculturalism is dumbing down our curriculum - if that is, in fact, her opinion, I disagree completely.) However, it is still worth reading for the wonderful tips and research information. 

Only a few more hours left until the root canal. Thank goodness for all of the delicious smoothies people have been posting lately. I am talking about you in particular, Rebecca and Swathi. They will keep me from feeling too deprived, I'm sure.

If you get a chance, please visit my friend Deborah's blog to read about a chance to win four bags of coffee, a travel mug, and a bumper sticker. Not only that, you will be helping Deborah and her family raise money to bring their little boy home from China. Yesterday was his fourth birthday; they are determined it will be his last one without them! March Madness - Now's the Time to Buy Some Coffee

Menu Plan Monday!

Menu plan time again! This week my menu is probably all wishful thinking. I am having a root canal on Tuesday and a crown sometime later in the week. I imagine that might get in the way of my eating! Oh, well, we shall see.

My menu is:

twice cooked pork

grilled chicken with herb lemon sauce

slow cooked beef with beer

chana dal

eat out at Thai restaurant

creamy scallops with pasta

grilled shrimp

If you are looking for a Weight Watcher's friendly menu, here are some possibilities for you. If you followed last week's menu, then you made a rotisserie chicken today. You can use that for your meat Monday and Wednesday. If not, you can always buy a rotisserie chicken at your grocery store.





night out - local favorite: Mexivenn, chain favorite: Panera (low fat black bean soup=yum)

soup and sandwich night (canned soup and sandwich made with deli flats, lean meat, and fat free cheese)


I have to confess that I watch very little TV and, therefore, have no idea who Ginnifer Goodwin is. However, I did enjoy reading her interview in the January/February issue of Health. "I've been a member of Weight Watchers for 23 years, and I'm back on it right now. It's the only thing on the planet that doesn't dehydrate you or just make you miserable" Gennifer Goodwin. I am sure that there are other perfectly healthy plans out that, but it was nice to see that little shout out to WW.

Broiled Tofu - 2 points

One quick, delicious menu while I work on my menu plan Monday post!

Broiled Tofu
14 oz firm tofu
salt and pepper

1. Cut tofu into sticks.
2. Place the tofu sticks onto a pizza stone or baking tray. Spray with kitchen spritzer.
3. Place the tofu under your oven broiler until golden brown.
4. Turn the tofu and spray again with a kitchen spritzer.
5. Return tofu to oven. Broil until golden brown.
6. After removing tofu from the oven, add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Yields 4, 2 point servings

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Resolution Round Up February

It has been 2 months since I hopped back on the healthy wagon after my holiday hiatus. So, it is time for my Resolution Round Up.

1. Get down to goal weight of 127 pounds. Starting weight: 149.5, so -22.5 pounds. About ½ pound per week.

My weight on Friday (weigh in day) was down to 140 – a loss of 9.5 lbs so far and 3.5 pounds since last RR. Looking at it from a purely mathematical standpoint, I am doing well and am ahead of my goal. I have also received many positive comments from friends – including one friend’s husband who told me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look hot!” (My friend was right there and thought it was hysterically funny.) The problem is that I don’t see any change in myself. To be honest, I don’t see much change in myself since 73 pounds ago – I still look in the mirror and see the Michelin man. Which makes me think that I need to start doing some serious psychological work on myself, since my view of myself is not matching what others tell me they see.

Here I am, last night, before trouncing Stone at UpWords (best board game ever)…

2.      Log 130 workout hours (the equivalent of 30 minutes, 5 times per week). I chose total hours instead of times per week because I will inevitably be sick for at least a week and then feel like a failure for not exercising.

This month I logged 23.5 hours, which gives me a total of 40.2 hours for the year – far ahead of my goal. I tried several things to mix it up this month, but I am still mainly using my wiiFit for exercise. I did add about 20 minutes a day by creating these little cards after searching the internet for “exercise at your desk”.

In each of my classes, I take periodic breaks and let my kids take turns picking a card from the deck. Each card describes an exercise that is suitable for the classroom. We spend about 3 minutes per class doing the exercises. I have noticed that some of my more challenging students have really calmed down since we started this and many of them have started to talk more seriously about being healthier.

Because I have tried to concentrate on burning fat, I have been doing a lot of aerobics. This means that I have been doing a lot of jogging around the house and step aerobics and such. There is a downside to this that I did not foresee. In the last month, I have lost ½ an inch off of each arm, ½ an inch from my bust, ½ an inch from my waist, and ½ an inch from my hips. I have, however, gained an inch on each thigh!!!! Yes, I know it is muscle. I don’t care. It means they are bigger and that ticks me off. Since doing those measurements, I find that I am very unmotivated to work out.

 Make plans to do something special with my best friend once a month. We talked about it; I will plan one month, he will plan the next.

We had a lovely and eventful night out last week! Here is another glimpse of Amy Grant with Michael W. Smith at the Ryman...

4.      Take my nephew out to do something special at least once per month.

We had a lovely month. We spent a lot of time together being artistic. We had our little pizza date, of course. Also, we went to Barnes and Noble to enjoy story time in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And, we went to the ultimate toddler paradise, Chuck E. Cheese!

5. Go on two vacations. (I really want three, but two seems more achievable).

I take my first one this year in less than a month! The countdown has started! The destination... Helen, Georgia.

Update blogs for a total of 5 updates per week.

Obviously I have managed this! I have so enjoyed blogging and reading your comments. My very favorite recipe from this month was Cornish Game Hens in Cranberry Sauce. It was so delicious, I could eat it daily.

Here is another happy food that I will give you the recipe for when I get the chance. Stir fried broccoli...

Finish editing the book of short stories I wrote last year. Contact at least one agent.

I finished editing it last month and have been typing up the edits (I have to edit on paper). I have 176 pages of 225 edited in the computer. I grow more and more apprehensive the closer I get to the next step. I am now convinced that my writing is terrible and that I should burn the whole book. I think that is probably quite normal.

8.      Pay off the remaining loan on my car.2,792.61 which I owe to a relative who does not ask me to make regular payments.

 I managed to make a payment of 192.51 in January. That puts me still owing 2600.10.  Still a very large chunk of money, but at least it is less than it was.

Say no more often.

Doing better, bit by bit. This applies to many areas of my life. For instance, I bought this bag of doughnuts and apple fritters and gave every single one of them away.

Make time to do things that make me happy.

I am working at finding out what exactly makes me happy. Time with family – definitely, and I enjoyed a lot of that this month. I also started scheduling more meetings for the club I sponsor at school and am enjoying the wonderful students who come together to talk about health and fitness. I would like, this month, to find a bit more time for some of the friends I haven’t seen in awhile.

Having this on my finger makes me happy...

Make an effort to be a better person.

My hardest resolution. Baby step by baby step, I am trying.

Thank you all so much for the support you give me! This blog is one of the best self improvement tools I have.

Special thanks to Mateja, the Food Hound, and Ann for choosing to give me awards this month. All three of their blogs are fabulous! Please visit them.

I was tickled pink when my favorite Diva featured one of my recipes on her blog. It was a thrill to be spoken of kindly by someone who inspires me so much!

It was an honor to be included in two of Tiffanee's Friday Favorites! She always makes my mouth water with her list of yummy recipes from delicious blogs!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Piperade - 3 points, Pink Saturday, Music Friday

I have certainly had a crazy week! My computer crashed last night, just to make things interesting. I have managed to repair it for the moment but anticipate further problems since I am not a techie and don't know what I am doing.

First, here is a terribly delicious, very easy recipe for you! I have eaten a ridiculous number of egg whites since healthifying my diet. They are my new favorite protein.

Piperade from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup green bell pepper, sliced
2 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tsp basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
8 egg whites

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; saute until onions are transparent.
2. Stir in the peppers and continue to saute until peppers are soft.
3. Stir in tomato, basil, and pepper. Cook, uncovered, 15 minutes.
4. Beat eggs and egg whites with salt.
5.  Add eggs to skillet. Cook, stirring gently, until eggs are set.
6. Yields 4, 3 point servings

Here they are, accompanied by some roasted Brussels sprouts:

Second, Happy Pink Saturday! This week my pink picture is of the lamp on my bedside table. My mom bought this piece at a garage sale when I was in high school. I was completely enamored of roses at the time and wanted my whole room to be covered with them. I no longer have the rose comforter, curtains, or rug, but I still love this little lamp. The delicate crocheted doily you can see beneath it was purchased from a lovely lady in an art market in Zimbabwe.

I am so excited to do my resolution round up tomorrow! I have a lot to tell you. But, I have a husband who is about to finish his homework, so for now I will leave you with my Friday song. Up until now, I have let my Zen DJ pick the song. But, this week I felt like it had to be Amy Grant and it had to be romantic. So, here are Amy Grant and Keb' Mo' with, "Come Be with Me".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Simple Fish with Tomatoes and Onion - 4 points, Date Night

First, a simple but delicious recipe for fish.

Simple Fish with Tomatoes and Onions
1 large onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
4 fillets tilapia, 4 oz each
seasoning salt to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place onions in the bottom of a cast iron skillet or baking dish. Place in a 400F oven for ten minutes.
2. Layer tomato slices, salt, and pepper on top of onions. Return skillet to the oven for ten minutes.
3. Top tomatoes with fish fillets and seasoning salt. Place in the oven for a final bake of 10-15 minutes, until fish is cooked through.
4. Makes 4, 4 point servings

Now...for date night. Last night Stone and I had a night out. We took the short trip to downtown Nashville. Our plan was to go to a great little cafe for dinner, but they were inexplicably closed. So, we stopped by freshii instead. You won't see me talk about chain restaraunts often becuase I much prefer to patronize independent restaurants where the personality of the chef can truly shine. However, I do love freshii and their fab commitment to the environment. So, I will show you my bowl of delicious rice noodles, grilled tofu, chopped almonds, bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, and spicy lemon grass sauce:

Stone's wrap of romaine, Buffalo chicken, diced tomatoes, celery, carrots, jack and cheddar, and low fat ranch dressing:
And our frozen yogurt with granola and reeses pieces:

That is, by the way, the best frozen yogurt in the world. Super tangy, fat free, probiotic yogurt.

Then we hopped on over to the Ryman (former home of the Grand Ole Opry) to see Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith - a present from my parents.

Yup, that's all we did.

But, wait, you say to yourself. In the picture where Stone is holding his wrap, is that a ring on his left ring finger? Did they possibly also stop by the courthouse? Do their friends and family think that they are completely insane? Have they known each other for fourteen years and think that they know what they are doing? Are they over the moon happy in love? The answer to all of those questions is...yes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pear Apple Sauce - 0 points

This did not start out intentionally. I had two anjou pears that were starting to get mushy and several red delicious apples that were bruised. I was feeling too lazy to do anything fancy, so I decided to just cook them down into a sauce.

I am not normally a big fan of the red delicious apple, as it tends to be mushy. In sauce, however, it turns out to be wonderful! As I was spooning this into my mouth, I kept thinking, "I didn't put sugar in this, right? Did I add cinnamon and forget about it? Was I sleep cooking?" But no. This is simple - just apples and pears cooked down into an completely indulgent mixture that will make you feel like you are sneaking some forbidden, fattening treat.

Pear Apple Sauce
2  very ripe anjou pears, peeled and chopped
4 very ripe red delicious apples, peeled and chopped

1. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place fruit into skillet; cover.
3. Simmer over low heat for 1hr+, until fruit is cooked to your liking. I like mine medium mushy- about 1 1/2 hrs.
4. Mash with a potato masher for a chunky sauce or run, in batches, through a food processor for a smooth sauce.
5. O points

While we are on wonderful fruit dishes, check out these biscuits with strawberries on top that Stone made. They were amazing! He still won't divulge his biscuit recipe. I am working on him.

Finished teaching the BFG by Roald Dahl. I have fond memories of my Standard Four teacher reading it to my class. My students seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. Do you have fond memories of a teacher reading to you?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Planning

First off, the mommy of two of Simon's adorable little friends asked me about my menu planning. I was thinking about participating in Menu Plan Monday, so I decided to go ahead and show you my menu and how I plan it.

Here are the basics. I go to the store on Saturday or Sunday. I have a list of any pantry staples that need to be replenished, but nothing apart from that. I buy what is cheap and on sale - enough meat, veggies, and fruit to last the week. When I get home, I look at what I have purchased and make my menu. I don't like to go to more than one store, so I typically shop at Aldi one week (stocking up on frozen veg and fruit) and Publix the next week for a greater variety of fresh produce.

Next, I plan my meals around my schedule. This week I have to work late on Thursday, so I have planned a crock pot dinner. However, I am flexible. If I am running late tomorrow, I will not take the time to make chicken curry - I will switch it with Wednesday's easier meal.

You will not see side dishes on my menu plan. I always have salad greens, fresh vegetables, and frozen vegetables. If I am short on time, I throw some greens in a bowl or steam a veg in the microwave.  If I have time, I will make a more elaborate side dish on the spur of the moment. But, the main dish always comes first.

As far as points, I try to plan for 4-8 points for dinner. I like 4-5 for breakfast, 4-5 for lunch, and then several left over for snacking. I eat six times a day - three meals and three snacks- so I need to space out my points.

Now that I am done going on and on and is the menu for this week:

tofu and vegetable stir fry

chicken curry
saffron rice

pork roast

eggs with vegetarian chorizo

spicy split peas

tuna a la king

(I am having guests)
beef and vegetable stew
cheese quesadillas
dark chocolate no bake cookies

At the risk of this post being forever long (too late) here is a menu of recipes already posted here or self explanatory if you are looking for some inspiration for the week.




sandwich night - low carb wraps with fat free cheese and lean meat

eat out - keep it as healthy as you can
(personal favorite - local, Ahart's Pizza Garden; chain, Wendy's (salad and small chili- yum!))

Make Rotisserie Chicken to use next week

I hope this is helpful! If you are making your menu for the week, I would love to know what you have planned. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creamy Chilled Avocado Soup - 4 Points

I have been craving avocados for a few weeks now, but just couldn't see myself using the points to eat one sliced or in guacamole the way I usually would. I was really glad to take the No Croutons Required challenge and try out this recipe from Homemade Soups by Sunset Books. It gave me the delicious flavor of avocado without the high point value.

Creamy Chilled Avocado Soup
2 large, ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 cubes chicken or vegetable bouillon
5 cups water
1 small onion, quartered
3 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (optional)

1. Place avocado, juice, bouillon cubes, one cup water, and onion in a food process and whirl until smooth.
2. In a large bowl, mix avocado paste with the remaining four cups of water and stir until blended.
3. Chill soup for at least 30 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with bacon.
4. Makes 6, 4 point servings

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pork Meatballs - 1 Point Each

Time for the final piece of Valentine's Day dinner - the meatballs. I love to make huge batches of homemade meatballs and keep a bag in the freezer. I can pull out a few at a time for sandwiches, sweet and sour, Swedish, Italian - whatever my heart desires. This is my go-to meatball recipe. I don't always use pork, but ground pork was the cheapest meat for sale in the grocery store this past week.

Pork Meatballs
2 lb ground pork
1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 egg whites
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, mixed all ingredients until well combined (I use my hands). Shape mixture into 50 meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches each).
2. Place meatballs on in an ungreased cast iron skillet or baking dish.
3. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes
4. Yields 50, 1 point meatballs

Second on my list tonight, I wish you a very happy Pink Saturday. Here is my pink pictures for the week; embroidery detail from a quilt my grandmother made many moons before I was born. Because the quilt includes several pieces of fabric taken from dresses my mother wore in high school, my grandmother gave the quilt to me a few years ago. I cherish it. (For good measure I decided to show you another piece of the quilt - a sunbonnet girl made from some of my mother's high school clothes.)

For the Pink Saturday challenge, I have chosen one of my favorite posts from last week. Check out this decadent recipe for pumpkin soup!

Finally, I always leave you with a Friday Song, randomly selected by the DJ on my Zen. I do have very eclectic tastes so we are going from British folk alternative to Christian hip hop to this week's offering - country. Raul Malo, lead singer of The Mavericks and talented solo artist, has one of the sexiest voices in the world. Here is "I Should Know" by The Mavericks.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Chunky Marinara Sauce - 2 Points

Last night I started telling you about the Valentine's Day meal I made for Stone. I started on the bottom with the spaghetti squash. The next level is, of course, the homemade marinara. I like my sauce chunky - I want to see the vegetables. Also, you will notice that I do not peel my tomatoes. I happen to like the peel. Plus, the peel is good for you (lots of carotenoids in there).

Homemade Chunky Marinara Sauce
2 lbs tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkt Splenda or other non-calorie sweetener
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat Add onions and garlic; saute until onions are transparent.
2. Add herbs and sweetener, stir until warmed.
3. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for at least one hour.
4. Yeilds 6, 2 point servings

I hope you are not tired of my literary ramblings as I did finish another book today: A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I do not like books without sympathetic characters. I feel that I am supposed to like this book because it is chock full of terribly flawed characters doing horrible things to each other (which seems to be considered very sophisticated in the literary world). Yet, I find myself searching for a character with whom I can identify. The closest I could come in this novel was the minor character of the housekeeper. I am going to have to accept the fact that I need to like at least one main character to actually enjoy reading a book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spaghetti Squash - 0 Points

I promised to share my Valentine's Day fare with you, but I have been a bit behind. Here is my first of four recipes from the day of love.

I have known Stone for a long time; we met when I was a senior and he was a junior in college. Over the years, I have heard him say a few times how much he likes the iconic scene from Lady and the Tramp where the Tramp gives the Lady the last meatball from their plate of spaghetti and meatballs. That is how I decided that spaghetti and meatballs would be the perfect meal for Valentine's Day.

Rather than make a traditional spaghetti and meatballs, I decided to use the much more diet friendly spaghetti squash and meatballs. I cooked squash, homemade chunky marinara sauce, and pork meatballs. Here is what the finished product looked like:

Lets start from the bottom up with the recipes. First, of course, the squash.

Simple Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash

1. Pierce the squash in several places with a fork. Place in a baking pan.
2. Bake at 375F for one hour, watching to make sure that the bottom doesn't burn.
3. Allow the squash to cool.
4. Slice the squash lengthwise. Removed the seeds (save for roasting, if you would like - recipe later). With a fork, remove the squash from the shell and place in a serving dish.
5. 0 points per serving regardless of how many servings

If you want to bake it faster, you can always cut it up first. I hate very few things, but I do indeed hate slicing raw spaghetti squash. So, I use the lazy way and cook it whole.

Here is the finished product:

Finally, a brief romantic book review. I finished Don't Look Down, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. I read a lot of Crusie books; they are enjoyable mind candy. This one was not my favorites. I loved the parts about Wonder Woman. She is the best super hero ever! She can spin around in a circle and have on a whole new outfit - plus, she has bullet proof bling. Awesome. On the other hand, while I am all about suspension of disbelief, this one asked a lot of me. It was very unrealistic. It needed a little bit more irony to prove that it understood its own implausibility.  

Note: You may notice that I changed the title of my blog from "This is what I do..." to "This is what I eat...". I didn't originally intend for this to be a food blog. Since that it what it has become, I decided that "eat" was more accurate than "do".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quick Mushrooms - 2 points

Here is another great recipe from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes. It was super fast, but very tasty. Instead of serving it on toast, I made some whole wheat sourdough muffins to accompany it.

Quick Mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 lb white mushrooms, quartered
1/4 tsp salt

1. In a medium skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add the onions and saute until brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes or until soft.
3. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Yields 4, 2 point servings

I just finished re-reading a favorite book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, but Sherman Alexie. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Alexie speak at the Southern Festival of Books. He is every bit as funny and charming in person as he is in his wonderful books. This particular book is one of the most contentious in the academic world at the moment; it is being banned all over the country because of its - in my opinion - unflinching honesty.

What is a book that you have re-read?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Easy Italian Shrimp - 3 points

Easy Italian Shrimp
1 lb medium shrimp
1/2 cup low fat Italian dressing (I used a sun dried tomato version)
3 cloves garlic

1. Place shrimp and dressing in a shallow dish. Cover, refrigerate and allow to marinate for 1-2 hours.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Spray with kitchen spritzer. Saute garlic for 1 min.
3. Add shrimp and dressing to skillet. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Yields 4, 3 point servings

I just finished teaching a great book - A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck. It is a cute book about a cantancerous granny, set during the days of Al Capone. Reading it reminds me of one of my favorite restaurants, and purported Al Capone hide outs, High Point in Monteagle, Tennessee (follow the link and you will drool reading the menu). I look forward to making another trip there and telling you all about it.

I hope that everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day. Mine was quite nice (and I have recipes to share with you later this week from Simon's school and my dinner with Stone). Stone sent me a balloon that read, "I love you". It was quite commical as in each one of my classes a student would ask, "Hey, who loves you?" I of course said, "Lots of people. But only one of them sent me a balloon."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Banana Cardamom Bread - 4 points

I had two bananas that were turning a lovely shade of black, so I decided they were begging to be baked into some sort of yummy bread. I have been making this bread, based on one from The Ultimate Healthy Eating Cook Book, for years and find it delightful.

I decided that the bread wanted to be shaped like a turtle (Simon saw bread shaped like a turtle in Family Fun magazine not too long ago and thought it was wonderful).

Banana Cardamom Bread
2/3 cup warm water
1 pkt active dried yeast
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp rum
2 ripe, mashed bananas
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Gently mix in yeast. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture, bananas, rum, and cardamom. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the bread for 5 minutes until smooth. Form dough into a ball and place in a glass bowl. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to sit for 2 hours.
4. Shape the dough as desired (the book suggests braiding or leaving in a loaf.) Place on a greased baking sheet or stone. Leave to rise 1/2 hour.
5. Brush the top of the dough with water. Sprinkle on sesame seeds.
6. Bake the bread at 425F for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 400F and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
7. Yields 10, 4 point servings

Look how cute!

I did use raisins for the face. I will admit a dirty little secret - I love burned raisins. They are a guilty pleasure. In this case, though, I did allow Simon to eat all of them. Apparently, they are one of his guilty pleasures as well.

Much love to one of my favorite bloggers, The Food Hound, for bestowing the Stylish Blogger Award on me. Please check out her amazing blog. She is not only a great cook; she is a fantastic writer.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Easy Valentine Hearts - 1 Point

It has been a very long time since I made Jello jigglers, and I wanted to practice before I try to make the treat I am planning to send to school with Simon. I had some canned whipped cream in the fridge, so I made myself a cute little treat.

Jello Jiggler Hearts
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 pkg (3 oz) sugar free red Jello (I used cherry)
canned whipped topping, lite

1. Stir Jello into boiling water for about 3 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Pour into a 9x11 inch glass pan. Refrigerate 3 hours, until very firm.
2. Dip bottom of the pan into warm water for 10 seconds to loosen Jello. Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes in the jello.
3. Create heart sandwiches by spraying a layer of whipped cream over one heart and topping with another. Spray an outline, x, o, or other shape around the top heart.
4. Each sandwich is 1 point

These were very cute, super easy, and yummy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

An Easy Treat, Pink Saturday, Valentine Blogroll

I am still contemplating Valentine's Day. I think I have decided what I shall be making for Simon to take to school. We will just have to see if it turns out well. In the meanwhile, I have my students to cook for. They really had better stop being such high achievers, as they are eating me out of house and home with their reward parties. For this one, I went super easy with Valentine's inspired sandwich cookies.

Strawberry Shortcake Sandwich Cookies
20 Otis Spunkmeyer strawberry shortcake cookies
1 can whipped chocolate frosting

1. Bake the cookies according to package directions, ensuring that they they are crispy - no soft. Allow cookies to cool completely.
2. Liberally slather frosting onto the bottom of 10 cookies. Top each frosted cookie with an unfrosted one, bottom side down, to create 10 sandwiches.
3. Easy! (Yields a whole ton of Weight Watchers points, which is why I made exactly the number needed for the students at the party and not one extra.)

Obviously, you could do this with just about any cookie and any frosting. I love these Otis Spunkmeyer cookies - which contain dried strawberries and white chocolate - and thought that they would be Valentine's appropriate.

Next topic, Happy Pink Saturday! Here is my pink thing for the week. This is a sunbonnet girl from a quilt that my mother made for me when I was a little girl. Isn't she lovely (my mother is quite lovely, too).

Next up, I have been keeping track of my very favorite Valentine's ideas from the blogosphere. Some of them were not intended for Valentine's Day, but they are so sexy that I felt compelled to include them. The very first was my favorite find from last Pink Saturday.

Finally, I always leave you with a song on Friday - chosen by the handy dandy DJ on my Zen. After the last couple of weeks, you probably think that I only listen to British folk alternative. Which might make you suprised that tonight's song is "Break Open the City" by tobyMac.

Ahart's Pizza Garden

My favorite pizza and my favorite cheesecake can be found at the same wonderful restaurant - Ahart's Pizza Garden. While many of my old favorites are now big diet no-no's, I can still enjoy Ahart's without guilt. The pizzas are all made with thin crust, they have a plethora of veggie toppings to choose from, and the delectable cheesecake is sugar free! Yay for Ahart's!

Because Simon has been very good and has done all of his chores, Stone and I took him out for a special snow day lunch at Ahart's. He was so excited to get his very own pizza!

I was a bit naughty and got a pizza with a few more calories than I normally get. But, I have plenty of extra points and have been doing aerobics for at least 1/2 hour a day, so I do not feel guilty. Here is my choice, The Garden Pizza: spinach, artichoke hearts, avocado, red onions, green peppers, black olives (none for me), and ricotta cheese. Please forgive me for being out of focus, I was snapping quickly with my flipcam and attempting to avoid the attention of the other diners. Next time I will take my regular camera and not care who is watching.

 My pizza was made with their thin white crust, special tomato sauce (in which you can see actual herbs, unlike most chain places), mozzarella and provolone. The same basics were on Simon's pepperoni and cheese pizza.

Stone ordered Lisa's Favorite: extra sauce, green and red bell peppers, avocado, Cajun spices, grilled red onions, and grated Parmesan (no other cheese).

 For dessert, we chose the Oreo cheese cake. In Simon's words, "It was yummy! I no make a mess, I just eat it!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sourdough Pizza Crusts- 5 points

I decided that a nice food to have in the freezer would be some individual pizza crusts. I love making pizza from pitas or wraps, but I thought that a nice sourdough crust would be a interesting change. I found a great recipe at Sourdough Home (which is chock full of great recipes). You can find the recipe by clicking this link. I followed the directions with the following exceptions.

1. I used my Amish sourdough starter instead of a traditional sourdough.
2. Instead of one large crust, I rolled my dough out to make 8 mini crusts.

Here are the crusts before being placed in the freezer:

I made these when I had family over for dinner. I topped each crust with 1/4 cup of artichoke and garlic salsa and 1/8 cup fat free mozzarella - which kept each at 5 points, since the toppings were nothing. They were delicious! The crust is, of course sweet because of the sugar in the starter. Everyone agreed that the sweetness went nicely with the spice from the salsa. Since Simon likes his pizza with a bit more cheese, his was topped with 1/4 cup 2% Colby Jack cheese. Here it is just before he scarfed it down.

Because of the sweetness, this crust would make an excellent dessert pizza as well! I think if you shaped it like a heart, it would also be quite lovely for Valentine's day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Namibian Beans - 5 points

During my gap year, I had to spend some time in Johannesburg getting medical treatment. My parents were unable to travel with me for one of my many trips there, so a nurse generously let me stay in her house for a couple of weeks. I had a lovely time getting to know her, playing with her dog when she was away during the day, and eating her delicious cooking in the evenings.

Before moving to Jo’burg, the nurse had worked at a clinic in Namibia. The Namibian nurses had taught her many delicious vegetarian dishes, including a fabulous way to prepare beans. These Namibian beans became an instant favorite of mine. They are fabulous straight out of the pot – and possibly even better the next day, spread on a low carb tortilla with a little fat free sour cream. Mmmmm….

Namibian Beans
2 lb dried pinto beans
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups chopped onion
salt to taste

  1. Follow package directions for soaking beans.
  2. In a large pot, combine onions, tomatoes and beans. Pour in enough water to cover plus one inch.
  3. Bring beans to a boil, remove any foam from the top of the water. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 hours.
  4. Remove 1 cup of beans from the pot. In a medium bowl, mash beans into a paste. Return the paste to the pot and stir (this will thicken the beans).  Salt to taste.
  5. Yields 16, 5 point servings

These can also be made in the crock-pot. Just leave the beans, tomatoes, water, and onions over high heat for 7-8 hours.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Strawberry Brownie Bonbons - 4 points

Let the count down to Valentine's Day begin! When I went to pick up Simon today his teacher said, "Be sure to look at the papers in his cubby before you give them to his mommy. We are having a Valentine's Day party. I know you will want to make something yummy for us!"

Pressure! Now I have to figure out what to make for the big V day party! I have seen several really great ideas in the blogosphere (blogroll to come- I have been making a list of my faves). I still haven't decided what I will do. While I think about it, here is an idea for a yummy Valentine's treat - strawberry brownie bonbons. Trust me- people will love you for these! They are like little bites of heaven - the hint of strawberry and cream cheese mixed chocolately goodness and rolled in a semisweet shell. They are also rich enough that I can eat just one and completely satisfy my sweet tooth.

Strawberry Brownie Bonbons
1 package brownie mix
1 can cream cheese frosting
1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter
6 tbsp chocolate milk (I used dark chocolate almond milk)

1. Prepare the brownies according to the directions for "cakelike brownies" (usually this means adding an extra egg). Allow brownies to cool.
2. Combine cream cheese frosting and strawberries in a food processor. Mix until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, break apart and crumble the brownies (I use my hands). Add the frosting puree and mix until smooth (for this part I use a mix 'n chop). This is the filling of your bonbons.
5. Using a tablespoon or scoop, form the filling into balls. Layer the balls in a freezer safe container, separating layers with waxed paper. Place the container in the freezer for 2 hours or until the balls are firm.
6. Over a double boiler, heat chocolate chips, butter, and milk - stirring constantly - until chips are completely melted. (Alternately, use a microwave save dish and heat at 20 second intervals, stopping to stir at each interval, until melted.)
7. Using a spoon, dip the frozen filling balls into the melted chocolate and turn them to coat on all sides. Place the balls on waxed paper.
8. After the chocolate has cooled, place the bonbons back into the freezer safe container, separating with waxed paper as before. Return bonbons to the freezer. Remove from the freezer 1 hour before serving.
9. Yields 44, 4 point servings

Now back to thinking about what to make for Simon and his tiny cronies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fini Dini Pork - 3 points

I had a friend, in college, who spent a summer in Guam doing mission work. When she came back, she had this recipe she called fini dini sauce. She made fini dini everything. Fini dini chicken, fini dini shrimp, fini dini pork - you get the idea. No one complained about her obsession because whatever she decided to place in the fini dini sauce was delicious! I finally asked her how she made it and was pleased to find out that it is super easy!

You can use the sauce as a marinade for just about any meat, but pork chops were on sale, so that was the protein du jour. It was incredibly tender (thanks to the vinegar) and tasted deliciously savory. I made basmati rice to accompany it because that is my carb of choice when I have points left.

Fini Dini Pork
18 oz pork chops
For sauce:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced (I used three, because I really like garlic)

1. Place all ingredients into a large Ziploc bag or sealable container. Place in the fridge at least overnight, up to 24 hours.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork with sauce. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until pork is cooked through.
3. Yields 6, 3 point servings

Yum! I wish I had some leftovers to nosh on.

Ann at Apples and Twinkies (a fabulous blog full of oh-so-yummy recipes) was generous enough to pass on a Stylish blogger award to me. She is so kind! I love being thought of as stylish and was tickled pink that Ann thought of my blog for this award! Here it is:
Now, the first requirement for accepting this award is that I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself. This part intimidates me because I want to have fabulously interesting things to tell you and feel that I am rather unglamorous. I shall do my best.

1. One of my favorite flowers is the Tennessee State Flower, the bearded iris. Here are some that I planted in my front yard.
2. I love museums. I could spend the rest of my life going between the British Museum and the Smithsonian. I am a big dork, but it's okay. I have embraced it. Here is a pic from a trip to the Smithsonian.

3. I have an adorable nephew, Simon, with whom I love to spend time.

4. One of my favorite treats is an apple dipped in caramel, chocolate, nuts, and whatever else Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory can come up with.
5. Every Christmas, I make egg's Benedict.
6. I love really cool bathrooms in restaurants and businesses. I will wait until I am alone, and then take pictures.
7. I have always been interested in architecture. This past year, I stopped by this interesting house in Kentucky - one of the few brick, octagonal houses in the United States.

The second requirement is that I am to give you a list of 15 blogs which I enjoy. Here they are! All were chosen for one or more of the following reasons: 1)fabulous food, 2)great writing, and 3) being inspirational.

Whew... I am ready for bed now! Ya'll have a great night:)