Homemade Lamb Stock

Last night I shattered poor Mary’s heart when I turned her little lamb’s leg into soup stock.

That was probably a bit morbid and overly dramatic.  I apologize to those of you who choose not to eat meat for political reasons.  But damn, that lamb was tasty.

When I buy something like a lamb leg, I do my absolute best not to waste any bit of it.  It’s pretty expensive, first off, and it’s delicious too, so why would I want to waste any?  Usually I buy a leg when it’s on sale and then cut the meat into 8-oz portions and stick them in the freezer.  The first time I did this, I knew I didn’t want to just throw away the bone.  I mean, that’s a big bone!  And it’s FULL of flavor.  So I looked up a few recipes for some inspiration and made my very first batch of homemade stock that night.

I used that first batch of lamb stock to make Italian Chicken Noodle Soup.  Wow, was it good!  The second time I made lamb stock (this is only the third time I’ve bought a leg of lamb.  I make it last.)  I used it to make a Lamb Kale and White Bean Soup.  I’ll be sharing the recipe for that later this month.  You absolutely must try it.  It’s divine.

In case you haven’t tasted lamb before, here’s a lame attempt at describing the flavor: It’s meaty, but almost sweet in a nutty kind of way.  It’s rich and tastes slightly creamy when it’s cooked properly.  Jess says it’s a sensual meat; the “lavender” of meat.  It’s a flavor that works perfectly with certain spices like mint, cumin and masala or rosemary and garlic, but you can’t just throw it in a pan and expect it to cook up like a steak with some rub.  Well, maybe you can, but I haven’t done that.  It seems disrespectful.  I always have a plan for my lamb and now you will too!

lamb, stock, homemade, soup, broth

Homemade Lamb Stock
Yield: about 4 quarts
PointsPlus for whole Yield: 1

Ingredients

  • Lamb leg bone
  • 1 potato, cut in fourths
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in fourths
  • 1 onion, cut in fourths
  • 2 large carrots, cut in fourths
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp whole dried thai chilis (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 quarts water

Directions

1. Put all ingredients into a stock pot, bring to a boil for 3 minutes and then turn down to low for about 4 hours.  Or you could just put it all in a crockpot and put it on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Once it’s done cooking, throw away (or somehow use) all the solid ingredients and strain the stock into a container until you are ready to use.  It can be refrigerated or frozen.

This can be applied to any bone, really.  If you have a roaster chicken that you haven’t cooked yet, you can use the bones in this rather than the lamb.  You can do the same with some beef bones too.  I wouldn’t use this recipe for fish stock, though.  I haven’t made that yet, so I can’t attest to this being the proper procedure and/or flavors.

Have you ever made your own stock?  How did you do it?

Fiesta Salsa

Beautiful photo by Jess!

Because it’s a party in the bowl AND a party in your mouth!

In case you didn’t know, Jess has a green thumb. She’s been able to keep our three outside plants alive with LOTS of dedicated watering throughout this ridiculous heat and lack of rain. Well, during our weekly trip to the Farmers Market on Saturday, we stopped by a vendor that had tomatillos and got the scoop on how to know when they’re ready to be harvested. Apparently they should still be pretty firm and the husk will get pretty dry. Then they’ll be ready! So, Jess went outside and picked off the three that we’ve been patiently waiting to harvest from our own tomatillo plant.

What does a person do with only three tomatillos? I looked through my cookbooks (sadly, not many tomatillo recipes) and found a couple for salsa that looked good. But still, I only had three. Then, I looked up at the beautiful heirloom tomato in our hanging fruit basket. It only had about 3 days left until it would get soggy and I decided it needed to be used as well.

Now I had enough tomato/tomatillo to make a salsa! Those, plus some jalapenos and even a habanero that’s been in my freezer for months came together with the other essential salsa ingredients and the result was spectacular. This salsa is a farmers market delight. As long as you have jalapenos, onion a little lime juice and a lot of cilantro, you can literally make any salsa your heart desires. Mine was sweet from the heirlooms and the tiny bit of cane sugar and spicy from the habanero. And the garlic (german garlic, which is ginormous), was a spectacular find from last week and it lent its flavor splendidly. No need to waste those heirlooms anymore. If it can go in tomato sauce, it can go in salsa!

Beautiful photo by Jess! Don’t you just want to dig in?

Fiesta Salsa
Servings: 1 (about 1.5 cups worth)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1

Ingredients

  • 3 small tomatillos, finely diced
  • 1 cup skinned and finely diced red heirloom tomato
  • 1/2 medium white or red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3 small jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 habanero, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar (or regular sugar), 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions
1. Take your garlic, onion, jalapenos, sugar and tomatillo and simmer for a few minutes over medium heat in a nonstick pan. This tempers the bitterness of the tomatillo.

2. Put your heirloom tomato and habanero into a bowl. Pour in the simmered tomatillo mixture. Put in the lime juice, cilantro and sea salt. Mix well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes so the flavor can deepen.

3. Serve with chips and enjoy!

Basil Grilled Summer Vegetables

The best grilled veggies I’ve had in years.

Jess and I spent the last few days with my parents in Ohio making great food and having fun. On Thursday, I made some Saucy Italian Chicken and we had salad on the side. Friday we had Agave-Lime Salmon and some amazing grilled summer vegetables. Saturday we lit the fire pit and cooked our hotdogs over the flames before bringing them inside to cover them in all sorts of our favorite toppings.

We also had Graeter’s Ice Cream, which is the most fantabulous ice cream on the planet, and some s’mores on another night… but that’s not the point of this post! I’m here to talk about those grilled veggies.

The veggies that we had with the salmon were AMAZING. Dad and I got some asparagus, summer squash and mushrooms washed and sliced and then grilled them in a veggie grill pan on the grill. I told him to drizzle a bit of olive oil over top (once it was on the grill and not just sitting on the table since there are holes on the bottom, duh.) and sprinkle in some sea salt, cracked pepper and red pepper flakes. Dad decided to use some homemade basil-infused olive oil and threw in some fresh basil and a couple of hungarian wax peppers from the garden as well!

Jess took this BEAUTIFUL photo of the Agave-Lime Salmon we had with the vegetables!

When we sat down to eat everything, it was like sitting down to a feast. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the veggies were still tender-crisp. He did a perfect job grilling them! And since it was a super easy veggie dish that most people wouldn’t just throw together, I decided to share with you. It is super low in points. I even threw all my veggies over a bed of salad greens and chopped up mini sweet peppers and onions, tossed in some reduced-fat feta cheese, sprinkled it with a little more sea salt to really bring out the flavors and drizzled it with another tsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar. WOW. Amazing.

Basil Grilled Summer Vegetables
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1 (WWOnline says 2 PP, but they stay tendercrisp and they’re veggies so I ignored it and just counted the olive oil!)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb washed and trimmed asparagus, sliced in half
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced
  • 1-2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 hungarian wax peppers (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil of your choice, 5 PP
  • 6-10 leaves of fresh basil
  • cracked pepper and sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions
1. Make sure all your veggies are washed and sliced. Put them in a saute/grill pan specifically for cooking veggies over a grill (except basil and hungarian peppers).

2. Drizzle olive oil over veggies once the pan is on the grill. You can either roast your peppers on the grill right next to the pan or you can put them directly in the veggie mix; your choice. Sprinkle in pepper, salt and red pepper flakes and cook for about 3 minutes. Then put in basil leaves.

3. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until tender-crisp. Serve immediately and enjoy!

And I would HIGHLY recommend doing what I did with the salad. It only adds an extra 2 PP and it really brings out the delicious flavors of the grilled veggies! (In case you forgot what it was: put veggies over a bed of salad greens and chopped up mini sweet peppers and onions, toss in some reduced-fat feta cheese, sprinkle it with a little more sea salt to really bring out the flavors and drizzle it with another tsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar.)

Smoothies and Shakes… What’s the Difference?

Click here for this Wild Blueberry Shake recipe by “Colorful Palate”!

I’ve been on a smoothie rampage lately. Well, by rampage I mean that I have at least 1-2 per day… and not really for the purpose of losing weight, but because they are damn tasty! If I can have something that tastes like ice cream without all the guilt for any meal of the day AND it takes less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish why would I NOT have 1-2 a day? They satisfy my massive sweet tooth and since I put protein powder in every one, they fill me up. It’s a win-win.

Click here for this Juicy Pear Smoothie recipe by “The Healthy Foodie”!

My history with making shakes and smoothies has not been a great one, though. Until my mom showed me how to properly make one last month, I ended up disappointed in most of my smoothie attempts. I’d already packed the blender up for our move (which is next weekend) because I didn’t see the point in keeping it out! Oh, silly silly me. Mimsy (my nickname for my mom) brought over some Weight Watcher Protein Smoothie packets, bought some frozen fruit and went to work.

First off, let me tell you the difference between a SMOOTHIE and a SHAKE. I had to do my own research on this just to figure it out. A smoothie is typically made with fruit – frozen fruit, fruit juice, fresh fruit, etc. It’s not a dairy affair. It’s a fruit party. A shake (“milkshake” being the source of the word), on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made with ice cream, milk or both. The thickness of either does not change the name; as long as you can suck it up through a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.

After you figure out if you’re making a smoothie or a shake, you then want to decide how thick you want it to be. Do you want to easily drink it or do you want it thicker so that you feel more like you’re “eating” something rather than “drinking” it? The breakdown:

Click here for this Blood Orange Smoothie recipe by “Bittersweet”!

– Start each shake/smoothie with no more than 1 cup of a liquid, whether that’s water, fruit juice or some kind of milk (soy, almond, coconut, regular, etc).

– If you want a treat you can DRINK, you can either skip the frozen stuff all together (like ice cream or frozen fruit) and just put in fresh fruit like berries and bananas (or even spinach or avocado!) or you can put in frozen items that are UP TO OR EQUAL to the amount of liquid you’re using. If it’s too liquidy, blend in something frozen like ice or fruit.

– If you want a treat you can EAT, you can put in frozen items that are EQUAL OR UP TO TWICE the amount of the liquid you’re using. You could also use half the amount of liquid and sub the other half with tofu, yogurt, avocado or cottage cheese. Any more than that and your blender won’t blend it properly and you’ll end of with icy chunks of fruit covered in what resembles a smoothie texture. If it’s too thick for you, add some more liquid.

Click here for this Lemon Apple Honey Smoothie by “The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife”!

– If you want a treat you NEED TO EAT WITH A SPOON, you’ll want to use 2 parts frozen stuff to 1 part liquid. Maybe a liiiiiiittle bit more, but not too much. Or you can use about 2 tbsp liquid, up to one cup of tofu, cottage cheese, yogurt or avocado and then add your sweetener and frozen ingredients.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: you want to make sure you eat/drink your treats right away. Smoothies and shakes lose their wonderful consistency within about 30 minutes. So, don’t make it until you’re ready to consume it.

Click here for this Papaya Strawberry Avocado Shake recipe from “Family Fresh Cooking”!

Now you know how to make it work. So all that’s left is some delicious recipes, right? Well, you can certainly click on any of the pictures I’ve posted to go to those recipes on different blogs or you can try some of these simple and delicious combos listed below! Just put in the wet ingredients first, then the protein powder (if using) and sweetener and THEN the frozen items. Blend and enjoy! You may need to use a spoon to re-position the fruit so that it blends properly. Once you see the top of the mixture seamlessly swirling towards the center, your treat is ready to be devoured!

Chocoberry Protein Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 PP
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 PP
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries

Click here for this Carrot Cake Smoothie recipe by “Pursuit of Hippieness”!

Tropical Breeze Protein Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar, 1 PP
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen tropical fruit medley

Peaches and Cream Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream, 2 PP

Simple Strawberry Smoothie (1 PP)

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp truvia, 1 PP

Chocolate PB Banana Shake (5 PP)

  • 1 cup skim milk, 1 PP
  • 1 tsp peanut butter, 2 PP
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen banana

Watermelon Explosion Sorbet (1 PP)

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen watermelon chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp truvia, 1 PP

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

This is a big pot of Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli, one of our favorite meals.

One of the must-have ingredients in our fridge is teriyaki sauce.  It’s so easy to whip up a quick meal with some noodles/rice, veggies and a protein (we use chicken the most).  On those long days at the office, we just want to come home and relax instead of cooking a meal for 90 minutes and eating at 8pm.  This is why we always have teriyaki!  It takes all of about 15-20 minutes to make a delicious and satisfying meal.

My favorite brand has always been the Soy Vay Island Teriyaki sauce that you can find at Trader Joe’s.  Even their regular teriyaki is really great.  But this weekend WE RAN OUT.  And we live almost two hours away from the closest Trader Joes!  It was scary.  So, we were trying to figure out if we want to run to the store and get some, despite the fact that we really didn’t want to use any more money on groceries for at least another week.  Then Jess piped up.

“Can’t we make our own?”

“Well, of course we can!” I said. “Let me see if I can find a recipe.”  

So, I found one.  And it is tasty and delicious.  Now, I shall share it with you.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (from Celeste on Allrecipes.com)
Servings: 26 (tsbp)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1
Calories Per Serving: around 26

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Mirin (rice cooking wine. Or you can use cooking sherry), 8 PP
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I used San-J Organic Gluten-Free), 4 PP
  • 4 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 PP
  • 1/3 cup white sugar, 7 PP
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger (I freeze mine and grate it that way. So much easier and cleaner!)
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 pinches ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (optional), 2 PP

Directions
1. Bring mirin to a boil in a small saucepan. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Pour in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Stir for a few minutes, then season with the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and black pepper. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

3. If you want to thicken it just a little (like I did), you’ll want to mix the cornstarch into a little bit of water until it forms a paste. Then mix that into the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

The great thing about this sauce is that I KNOW what’s going into it because I’m making it. And I just happened to have exactly enough mirin on hand that I’ve been carting around with me for 4 years! I love when that happens.

Celeste, the woman who posted the recipe, said that she received this recipe from a Japanese woman and it’s the best teriyaki sauce she’s ever had. I have to agree. This sauce is very authentic. Like… the kind of teriyaki you’d find in Japan. Not that crappy stuff they serve at Panda Express or Chinese Buffets. This stuff is legit. And delicious. And you only need about 3-4 tbsp for a stir fry that will serve 2 people. SCORE!

Thai Fish Cakes

So fun to make and so fun to eat!

Thai food is one of my many culinary weaknesses. Put it in front of my face and I will inhale it. It doesn’t really matter what it is because I know it’s going to taste amazing. Stir-frys? I like them spicy, saucy and full of veggies. Soups? I like them with warm, spicy, coconutty flavors and filled with veggies, rice and chicken. But my experience with Thai food has only touched the brim.  There are soooo many different Thai dishes out there!  A whole realm of flavor combinations that I haven’t tried yet.  So, I did a little research.

Thai fish cakes kept popping up on my radar, so I thought I’d give it a try!  They seemed relatively simple and a nice change of pace from the typical fish I’ve made before. Seriously, how many times can you pan fry or broil tilapia before it all starts tasting the same?

Well, these fish cakes were definitely tasty, different and very satisfying. I found a bunch of different recipes, but the one I went with comes from Adora’s Box. The reason I picked her fish cakes is because she decided to make them with ordinary ingredients; no need to go out to a specialty store just to find kaffir lime leaves or a bird’s eye chili! You can find all the ingredients at your local grocery store. I think that they could have tasted slightly more “thai-ish” with a few of the special ingredients (like maybe some thai curry paste or some coconut milk?), but they were still delicious.

The sweet chili sauce on the side is essential.

Thai Fish Cakes (slightly adapted from Adora’s Box)
Servings: 12
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (or two fillets) white fish, 4 PP (I used tilapia)
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped zucchini (she used green beans, but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp thai green hot chili peppers (she used a green finger chili)
  • 1 egg, 2 PP
  • 2 tbsp flour, 1 PP (i used masa corn flour, but it gave it a Mexican taste)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (she used the juice and zest of one lime)
  • 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar, 1 PP
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil, 3 PP (she used more, but I like it healthy!)

A nice change for my fishy palate.

Directions
1. Mix all of the ingredients, except for the zucchini and scallions, in a food processor and puree. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the zucchini and scallions.

2. Heat up a small non-stick skillet with 1 tsp oil to medium heat. Drop in spoonfuls of the mixture and pan fry on both sides until golden brown. You can flatten out the mixture into more of a “cake” once it’s in the pan. Fry in groups of four, using 1 tsp of oil every time. This way you can cut down on the oil instead of deep frying them like everyone else does!

If you want to make a meal of them, you can have 6 of them for only 7 PP! Otherwise, they’re great as an appetizer. Just have a little sweet chili sauce on the side for dipping and you’ll be set. Many people, including Adora, pair their fish cakes with a cucumber dipping sauce. I don’t eat a lot of cucumbers, so I went with the sweet chili sauce. I hope you enjoy them! I sure did :)

Inside Out Stuffed Pepper Meatballs

Holy sh*t balls, people. I’ve created a lick-the-plate-clean-twice-give-me-thirds-om-nom-nom recipe. Best part? I can’t find a SINGLE recipe like it on the internets! It’s completely original and totally going on the menu of ANY cafe/bistro that I open up.  It’s so good that I had to swear at the beginning of this paragraph.

My girlfriend, who isn’t a fan of peppers and onions or goat cheese (for the most part), cleaned the bowl with her finger and whined when she discovered there was no more noodles left. Then she ate another meatball and made me promise to cook up more noodles. She’s the kind of person that leaves at LEAST two bites of food/drink on the plate/cup every time. She’s also the kind of person that doesn’t really care about the sauce as long as the noodle is great.  That’s how amazing these meatballs are.

It all started with a pound of ground beef that was staring at me in the fridge. It said, “Make me into something new and delicious, Angela, and do it tonight.” How could I say no to that? I asked my Facebook fans what I should do (did I mention that I started an official Reluctant WW Foodie facebook page!?!?!) and they gave me some great ideas. I have to give mad props to my girl, Chandra, who suggested stuffed red peppers with goat cheese, beef and couscous. Her comment got me thinking about how much I’d been enjoying my bag of mini sweet peppers… and how I still had goat cheese in the fridge… and I started concocting.

This dish is delicate, yet rich with flavor. Sweet, yet saucy. Complex, yet simple. It took me about 40 minutes from start to finish (including cutting up the peppers) and I had to focus really hard on not inhaling it in 90 seconds or less once it was done. MAKE THIS. You can thank me afterwards!

Inside Out Stuffed Pepper Meatballs
Servings: 24 (each individual meatball)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 93/7 ground beef, 15 PP
  • 1 egg, 2 PP
  • 6 tbsp goat cheese, 3 PP
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil, 2 PP
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2/3 cup diced mini sweet peppers
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups of your spaghetti sauce of choice (not included in points, but it’s usually around 2 PP per 1/2 cup)

Directions
1. First, preheat the oven to 400. Then dice up your onion and peppers and set aside. Next, get a small pan heated up with the olive oil. While it warms up, put the rest of the ingredients (except the sauce) into a big mixing bowl.

2. Saute your onions and peppers for about 3-5 minutes and then put them into the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix it up with your hands because it’s fun that way.

3. Get out a 9×13 glass baking dish. Pour the spaghetti sauce in and spread around evenly. Take the meatball mixture and form 24 meatballs (around 1-2 inch diameter each) and set them in the sauce.

4. Put the dish of meatballs on the top rack of the oven for about 22 minutes. Take out and serve on top of your pasta of choice. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and enjoy the taste of heaven in your mouth.

5. Comment on this blog post on how delicious they were because you love me :)

Not only is this good over noodles, but I have no doubts that it would be fantastic over some spaghetti squash or broccoli slaw or even just plain LETTUCE (especially if you’re Jen from PriorFatGirl).  It would also be DELICIOUS nuzzled in the middle of a whole wheat hoagie.  Or just eat it without anything else…. maybe a salad on the side.  JUST EAT IT!  I’ve been on a culinary high since 7pm yesterday because of these damn meatballs.  It took me HOURS to get to sleep!!  They were so good!!  And I am so proud of myself for coming up with the recipe :D

Dress up that Lettuce!

Salads are back on the menu, people.  At least for the girlfriend and me.  I don’t think we ate a single one (except at restaurants) from about mid-October through the beginning of January.  Why?  Not sure.  I think we just needed a break from the leafy greens.  We still ate a LOT of veggies, just no salad.

Well, we’re back to eating those salads and making sure that they’re not boring and monotonous.  There’s nothing I hate more than eating the same salad day in and day out.  While we were doing the Game On! Diet with our friends, Jenna and Mike, Jenna emailed me the recipe for two tasty dressings.  I’m not sure where she got them, but I’m sure you could figure it out or ask her yourself over at her blog, Corgi Pants.

I figured I should try them out before I posted the recipes, so I did! For the Carrot-Ginger, I ended up using garlic instead of 1 small shallot because i didn’t have any on hand, and I used less oil and more water to make it a little lighter in points. OH. MY. GOD. If any of you in Champaign/Urbana have ever been to the restaurant “My Thai”, this dressing tastes EXACTLY like their carrot-ginger dressing! It’s sweet and tangy and just amazing. All you need is lettuce and this dressing and you’ll feel like you’ve just eaten a gourmet salad. This was also FANTASTIC over some broiled fish, as you can see in the picture below.  I tried it on both tilapia and salmon.  I liked it better over the tilapia, but it was still delicious on the salmon.

Carrot-Ginger Tilapia with Lightly Sauteed Zucchini and Peppers over Parmesan Brown Rice

Quick Carrot-Ginger Dressing
Servings: 16 servings of 2 tbsps each
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sliced carrots (about 2-3 large)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup white miso (soybean paste; found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket), 3 PP
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1 PP
  • 1/4 cup olive/canola oil, 14 PP
  • 6 tbsp water

Directions
1. Place the carrots, garlic, ginger, miso, vinegar, and sesame oil in a blender or food processor. Blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until very finely chopped, about 1 minute.

2. Add the olive oil and blend until nearly smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the water 2 tbsp at a time until you reach the consistency that you want. 6 tbsp was perfect for us. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (but i’m sure it will last longer than that!)

Now, Jenna usually makes a 1/2 recipe, so she only uses 1 carrot. She also never has miso so she just leaves it out, and she usually uses very little oil, using water instead to thin it down.  Personally, I thought the miso added a fantastic flavor to it.  I love a little extra asian zing now and then!

Yogurt-Curry Dressing
Servings: 1 (1/3 cup)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ cup nonfat greek yogurt, 1 PP
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or less) salt

Directions
1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and stir until well mixed. Spoon over salad or pasta. You could also put it in an egg salad for a flavorful twist!

I added a little cilantro flakes, ground pepper, lemon juice and turmeric to even out the flavor (because the original recipe calls for 1 tsp salt) and it worked. I think if I’d used less salt in the beginning, I wouldn’t have had to add all the other spices, so I made sure to lower the amount of salt in the recipe above! I can definitely see how this would be tasty in egg salad. YUM!

Spinach CAN Be Tasty

Click here for this Whole Wheat Spinach Monster Pasta recipe from Food Doodles!

Spinach isn’t just for Popeye anymore, people.  Actually, leave the canned greens to him and let us have all the fresh stuff!  It hasn’t ever really been a “popular” vegetable.  So many children’s shows have villianized it throughout TV history that the actual spinach industry has had to work REALLY hard just to stay alive.  Did you know that when Popeye was introduced into the public media that spinach sales went up 33%??  That’s crazy!  But I’d still take the fresh stuff over the canned stuff any day.  It’s just another one of those ridiculously healthy leafy greens that provides a good amount of iron, some calcium and a TON of vitamin A!  And the fact that it has a very mild flavor means that it lends itself perfectly to a wide array of dishes.

Click here for this Dhaniya Aloo Palak recipe from Honey, What’s Cooking?!

People mostly put it in salads, like they would with almost any leafy greens, but did you know you can also put it in shakes?  You can’t even taste the spinach (but it will turn the drink a bit more green than originally planned).  You can saute it, steam it, puree it and turn it into tasty things like dips and indian saag.  You can use it for flour-based foods like breads (sweet OR savory), pastas, ravioli (the filling or in the dough), etc.  Basically, the possiblities are endless!

I decided to cook up the spinach my girlfriend and I got from our local CSA, Brackett Farm, before it went bad.  It had been a day filled with carbs and I only had 11 points left to spend before I zeroed out on my daily WW allowance, so veggies were a must!  In fact, we’ve gotten so many veggies from the CSA so far that I had to take time out of my day yesterday just to dice up onions to freeze and garlic to pull apart so that they wouldn’t go bad.  The lettuce was already browning, but the spinach still looked perfect.

Dinner was Everyday Adobo Chicken, sauteed zucchini (from the CSA too) and garlic sauteed spinach.  It was delicious!  I’ve been slicing my zucchini into 1 inch thick rounds and they stay nice and juicy, so that was awesome.  I only had 1/4 a lb of the spinach and since it cooks down so much, I only ended up with about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of it!  Remember that when you cook spinach… a whole pound will cook down to only about 1 cup.  But it was a beautiful deep green and tasted wonderful.  My recipe was simple and took all of about five minutes to cook, start to finish.

Click here for this Blueberry Mango Pineapple Spinach Smoothie recipe from Mama Grubb’s Grub!

Garlic Sauteed Spinach
Servings: 2
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb fresh spinach of any kind
  • 2 tsp olive oil, 2 PP
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice (optional)

Directions
1. Rinse spinach and drain.

2. Heat up olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Once heated, add garlic and cook for a couple seconds to make it fragrant.

3. Add spinach. Use two wooden spoons to mix up spinach and oil until nicely coated. Put a lid over top and let it steam for about 1 minute. Then, take off the lid and continue mixing with the spoons and letting it cook for another 2 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper and just a few drops of lemon juice if you are using it. Mix it up and serve immediately!

Click here for this Spinach and Buckwheat Egg Bake recipe from The Healthy Foodie!

Make sure to click on the pictures around this entry for other tasty recipes with spinach as the main ingredient!  And check out all the linked words to get some Wikipedia info about other lovely things :)  You WILL learn something today, DAMMIT!  Er… heh :)

Savory Marinated Pork

Photo Courtesy of: the Patio Daddio BBQ blog

First off, I have to say hello to all the new readers from the West Chester, OH Weight Watcher groups! My Mom told them all about this site and the Reluctant Losers group and the accountability factor that it provides, so maybe we’ll have even more people joining. Woot woot! I hope you all enjoy my little blog :)

Now, for a mini life update. I’m sick. Ooooh, I hate being sick (thanks, Mom, for sharing the bronchial love.) It totally cramps my style! I can’t eat what I want to eat (no dairy when I’m all congested), too exhausted to really exercise (so my back feels pooey) and I just don’t have the energy to much of anything at all (like clean).

But me being a sickie-poo doesn’t mean I’m not cooking! The girlfriend and I planned out a menu and we’ve stuck to it. The asian stir-fry on Monday was pretty good, but the tomato soup and grilled cheese naan last night was fantastic! Garlic naan that we picked up from Trader Joe’s and a few slices of american cheese in the middle…. total perfection. It was a perfect hot meal for a couple of sickie-poos.

Since I’m on a Z-pack now and I (hopefully) will feel better by this weekend, I’ve been searching for a tasty marinade for the pork we’re grilling on Saturday. I was tempted to just do it Teriyaki-style, but I’ve already put up a bunch of Teriyaki recipes. No to monotony! Well, unless it’s REALLY good…. but anyway…

I found this recipe on Kalyn’s Kitchen and it looked REALLY good! And as someone who used to do the South Beach Diet and did experience some short term success on it, I figured I would give it a shot. I will most definitely be using this marinade on Saturday.  It looks quite flavorful and the pictures that she posted on her blog looked DELICIOUS.  These with some mashed potatoes and peas?  Yeah, um, I’m excited.

Photo Courtesy of: the Dine and Dish blog

Savory Marinade for Chicken, Pork, or Beef
Servings: 6-8
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3, but I’d only count 1 PP per piece of meat because the leftover marinade is tossed and most of it cooks right off. (This is just for the marinade. Don’t forget to count 1 PP per ounce of meat!)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil (she used 1/2 cup), 19 PP
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp light mayo (she used full-fat mayo), 3 PP
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (she used 1 T Worcestershire sauce for chicken but when she used it on pork or beef she increased it to 2 tbsp.), 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Poultry Seasoning (I’m using McCormick Chicken Seasoning)
  • 1 tbsp garlic puree or garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian paprika (I’m just using regular Paprika)
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme (optional)

Photo Courtesy of: the Guilty Kitchen blog

Directions
1. Put all ingredients in jar with tight-fitting lid and shake well until all ingredients are combined. (Don’t worry if there are some beads of mayo that don’t combine; they will dissolve when you’re marinating the meat.)

2. Make shallow score marks on the surface of the meat to help the flavor penetrate. Put the chicken, pork, or beef in a Ziploc bag or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour over just enough marinade to cover the meat, then let it marinate in the fridge for 6-8 hours or longer.

3. To cook, preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. (You can hold your hand there for only about 3 seconds at that heat.) Grill meat 10-20 minutes until chicken or pork feels firm and is lightly browned (or until desired doneness for beef), turning a few times to get grill marks.

4. Extra marinade will keep in the fridge for at least a week, probably longer… if you can keep it around long enough!