Upside-Down Almond-Fudge Tartlets

This Cooking Light Recipes boxed calendar is going to be the death of me. I can barely wait to turn to the next recipe every other day! The excitement and anticipation wreaks havoc on my impatient body. Well, not really. But it does entice my taste buds and gets me cooking things that I probably shouldn’t have in the house because it’s bad for my hips…. because that’s straight where it goes.

Luckily, it’s Cooking LIGHT and not Cooking LOADED. I can eat an entire one of these tartlets and still stay within my points for a day (I still get a lot of points). It’s completely worth it too because these are just fantastic! You can change up the nuts on top too. Don’t like almonds? Use pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts or even peanuts. Let your taste buds be your guide. Just don’t let your taste buds to convince you to eat two of them like mine did. Tricky buds.

tart, tartlet, almond, fudge, chocolate, dessert

Upside-Down Almond-Fudge Tartlets (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 6
PointsPlus per Serving: 13 (or cut each in half for 7 PP per serving)


  • 1 cup coarse chopped almonds, toasted, 23 PP
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chocolate, 16 PP (I used what I had, which was 1 square bittersweet, 1 square unsweetened and 2 squares semi-sweet)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used crisco butter-flavored sticks for 19 PP)
  • 2.25 oz all-purpose flour (around 1/2 cup), 6 PP
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 PP
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, 4 PP
  • 6 tbsp sugar (I just used 8 tbsp organic cane sugar instead of the sugar and cane syrup for 10PP)
  • 2 tbsp golden cane syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract


upside down chocolate almond fudge tart, dessert1. Preheat oven to 350. Set oven rack to lowest third of oven.

2. Coat 6 mini removable-bottom tart pans with cooking spray (CL uses a 9 inch round tart pan). Sprinkle almonds in the pans, distributing evenly. **If you need to toast your almonds, just put them in a dry pan over medium heat and toast until fragrant**

3. Combine chocolate and butter in top of a double boiler. Cook over simmering water until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside. (I just put a smaller sauce pan on top of a bigger sauce pan with water and put the stovetop on medium. Then the chocolate/butter went into the smaller pan and melted that way. Worked like a charm!)

4. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

5. Place eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until thick and pale. Gradually add sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating at medium speed 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add golden cane syrup (if using) and vanilla; beat on low speed 1 minute or until blended. Add chocolate mixture; beat 1 minute or until blended. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed just until combined.

6. Pour batter over nuts into prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake in lower third of oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs (20 if you’re using the 9 inch tart pan). Invert tart onto a serving platter. Top with a scoop of ice cream if you like for some added deliciousness!

Need to serve these at a later time? Nuking them for about 25 seconds will do the trick. You can also try topping them with a scoop of ice cream. I’d recommend vanilla, butter pecan or coffee flavored. Mine stayed good in the fridge for almost a week, so yours should too!

Lightened Up Piña Coladas

My absolute favorite frozen drink is the pina colada. When I saw this lightened up version from Chew Nibble Nosh, I almost peed my pants with excitement. She uses fat free evaporated milk infused with shredded coconut, but I would imagine that some Trader Joe’s light coconut milk might work just as well too… now I just have to try it! This version is about 5 PP. Not bad for a fruity, coconutty alcoholic drink! You can bet I’ll be trying this soon.

Chew Nibble Nosh

When it’s hot and summer-steamy out, we love to break out the blender and whip up delicious frozen drinks when we entertain.  One of my favorite “sit by the pool and relax” drinks is a cool, frosty Piña Colada.  The tropical pineapple-coconut combo always tastes so fresh and light to me.  The problem lies in that Piña Coladas usually aren’t really all that fresh.  Most rely on premixed, heavy on the calories drink mixes, which means they aren’t all that light either.  They taste great, but did you know that a typical restaurant/bar Piña Colada can pack up to 650 calories and close to 20 grams of fat?  That’s more than a Big Mac!  UGH!

Since I read that a while back, I’ve tried to steer clear of my favorite frozen drink.   If I’m going to blow 650 calories on something, it’s not going to be something I can…

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Salted Caramel Brownies

Click here for this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies recipe by Recipe Girl!

I am in love, people.  In love with this brownie.  I saw the picture in my Cooking Light magazine and knew I had to make them.  See, I have this obsession with foods that contain the wording of “salt and vinegar” or “salted caramel” in the title.  My culinary taste buds go wild when that combination of sweet and salty enter my mouth.  And you know what?  A lot of “salt and vinegar” flavored items actually have less sodium than their cheesey, ranchy, french onion flavored counterparts.  Why?  Probably because the salt is a main flavor and not just included in a mixture of all sorts of other spices.  Maybe because you don’t need something salty to compliment the flavor of salt…  Or I could be spewing crazy talk (definitely don’t quote me as anything other than a theory here!)  Either way, it is absolutely a winning combination in my book.

Cooking Light definitely hit the jackpot with this one and I am more than happy to share the recipe with you!  The minute I bit into one of these brownies, I knew I was in trouble.  They are SOOOO GOOOOOOD.  I had to cut them all up, wrap them in tin foil and put them in the freezer just to keep from eating them all in one sitting.  Due to the higher amount of butter and sugar, these brownies aren’t completely WWF… I mean, they DO have 5-6 PP per serving.  But there are definitely brownies with a lot more PP out there!  These ones were just too good to pass up.  They are worth the PP, at least in my book :)  I was supposed to have a picture of them, but due to some camera issues, that’s not happening!  So just take a look at these other delicious brownies that I’ve linked to.

These look similar to what mine looked like. This picture is from the Point-less Meals blog.

Salted Caramel Brownies (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 15-20
PointsPlus Per Serving: 6 PP for 15, 5 PP for 20

Click here for this Chocolate Chipotle Brownie recipe from the Cooking by the Seat of my Pants blog!


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 9 PP
  • 1 cup sugar, 22 PP
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 6 PP
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 12 PP
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, 13 PP
  • 2 large eggs, 4 PP
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cooking spray


  • 1/4 cup butter, 9 PP
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 6 PP
  • 3 1/2 tbsp evaporated fat-free milk, divided, 1 PP
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 6 PP
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp coarse sea salt, 4 PP

Click here for this WWF Cheesecake Brownies recipe from LaaLoosh!

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. To prepare brownies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking powder) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 6 tbsp butter, eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla. Add butter mixture to flour mixture; stir to combine. Scrape batter into a 9 inch square metal baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray (I used an 8×11 glass one). Bake at 350 for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging (it took me about 23 minutes). Cool in pan on a wire rack.

3. To prepare topping, melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp milk; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and powdered sugar; stir with a whisk until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over cooled brownies. Let stand 20 minutes or until set.

4. Combine 2 tbsp milk and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds or until melted, stirring after 20 seconds. Stir just until smooth; drizzle over caramel. Sprinkle with sea salt; let stand until set. Cut into squares.

Long Weekends = New Recipes!

A beautiful picture of the STL Arch taken by the girlfriend!

And they make everything better.  It’s true, isn’t it?  Long weekends are a time to get everything done that you can’t during the week, whether it be relaxing, cooking, cleaning or getting away from it all.

My girlfriend and I did all of the above!  We went to Saint Louis, MO for a couple of days to get away.  Last year, we went for our one year anniversary and didn’t have the best time with the activities that we chose.  We did a Riverboat Dinner Cruise…. let’s just say that watching an old lady choke on an ice cube, get heimliched and puke right in front of us as we were eating our dry salads kinda ruined that for us.  We did go up the Arch, though and that was fun.

This time we stayed on the outskirts of the city and drove in and around the city to get to the activities that we had lined up.  We went shopping at the Galleria, got a few chicken wings at Wingfest 2011, got soaked from a torrential downpour as we walked back to our car, but the best part was the Soulard Farmer’s Market.  OMG.  I was in heaven.  But more on that later this week as I’ve asked my girlfriend to write a guest blog and she’s going to talk all about it!  Throughout the days, when we were relaxing at the hotel, we were able to watch my favorite cable channel – FOOD NETWORK!!  I found myself ready to get home and start cooking and blogging again.

Me and Max waiting for the Double Feature to start at the Drive-In!

When we got back on Sunday, we did some cleaning, a little cooking and a lot of relaxing.  My girlfriend made pizza dough and a yummy lemon-butter-garlic chicken and vegetable roast and I blanched our abundance of tomatoes so they wouldn’t go to waste.  Then we went to a double feature at the local Drive-In.  Monday, though… that’s a whole different story.

I made EIGHT different dishes yesterday.  After a weekend of spending money on eating out, we knew we had to buckle down and make some things to last us throughout the week or we’d end up spending waaaay too much money!  Here’s the breakdown of what was made:

– Low-fat Layered Taco Dip
– Ciabatta Pizza Squares
– Chicken and Rice Soup
– Saucy Italian Chicken
– Grilled Zucchini
– Mediterranean Brown Rice Vegetable Bake
– Salted Caramel Brownies
– and something else… I can’t remember!

I’ll be posting the recipes for the taco dip, ciabatta pizza squares and salted caramel brownies later, but today, you get the recipe for the Mediterranean Brown Rice Vegetable Bake! I found a recipe in my Cooking Light magazine that looked good, but I made a BUNCH of changes to better fit our taste preferences and what we had available in our fridge.

Mediterranean Brown Rice Vegetable Bake (modified from Cooking Light)
Servings: 8-10
PointsPlus Per Serving: 6 for 8 servings, 5 for 10 servings

Photo of the original recipe in the September 2011 issue of Cooking Light


  • 2 tbsp olive oil, 7 PP
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup diced red/yellow/green peppers (CL uses 1 cup fennel)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (CL uses 2 cups mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, 2 PP (I had dried ones, so I re-hydrated them first and then cut them up)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese, 4 PP
  • 2 eggs, 4 PP
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley (CL uses 1/4 cup fresh parsley)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, 11 PP
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped, 9 PP
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, 6 PP
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, 3 PP (optional; it doesn’t change the PP value so add it!)

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions, garlic and peppers; saute 6 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Add basil and parsley and red pepper flakes. I also added a bit of garlic powder here. Cook until all of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Set aside and cool completely.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and eggs. Add cooled, cooked vegetable mixture and the remaining ingredients, including brown rice (and a little extra basil and parsley if you like). Mix well.

3. Preheat oven to 350.

4. Lightly coat a 1 1/2 quart ovenproof baking dish with oil. Place mixture in a dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes. (This is where CL stops, but it wasn’t done when I pulled it out, so…) Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Check it when you pull it out to make sure it’s done. There should be no liquids pooling on top and it should cooked and steamy when you slice through. Serve immediately or save for later! This warms up well.

When we ate it, my girlfriend really loved it and so did I. I did feel like it was missing a little something, so I added feta cheese to the recipe at the top. I believe the salty tartness of the feta is exactly what the missing ingredient is! This dish was so easy to make that I can definitely imagine making up a few others with different flavor focuses – mexican, fajita, indian and greek.

Crisp Pecan Cookies… oh, and a Weigh-In

Photo Courtesy of: Jess Costantini from Beautiful Orange Productions

I really need to stop with this cookie and brownie making.  I have a sweet tooth the size of Montana and cookies get me into trouble.  I have practically NO self control around them!  My weigh-in this week shows that.  I gained 7/10ths!  Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t more.  I did NOT follow my points this past week.  I was just eating everything in site!  But today I start my week over, so I’m making sure to get back on track.  Luckily, my exercise is still on track, though!  Actually, when I weighed myself using my nifty WW scale, I saw that both the lbs and percentage of body fat went down!  I definitely have more muscle!  The body fat loss was 1.2 lbs.  So I was okay with this gain.  Jillian Michaels has been kicking my patootie four times a week.  Never have I sweated so much in my living room.

Sometimes I feel like a bad Reluctant Loser Leader when I see that I’ve gained again, but you know what?  I’m showing you that I’m not perfect!  It took me 20 years to get to this point, so I know it’s not going to just melt off!  I’m not just trying to lose weight, I’m attempting to change a lifestyle that I’ve been living with since fourth grade.  Not just how much I eat, but what I eat, how to recognize (and not ignore) the signs my body gives me when I’ve had enough, how much and what kind of exercise I do, how I think about food and exercise… all of it!  I’m going to fail at some of those points during some weeks, but I just keep getting back on the bandwagon.  I feel too good to go back to where I was.  And our Weight Watchers Program at work is over now, so the weekly weigh-in here is super important for accountability!

I hereby claim that my goal for weight loss next week is 1 lb!  (I’m tempted to up that to 2 lbs, but the way my body is changing right now, I don’t think I want to set myself up for defeat).  I will stick to my points this week like a recovering addict sticks to the 12 step program.  It’s one day at a time.  One meal at a time.  One snack at a time.  I’m writing it all down.  Maybe I’ll even try to plan out the food for my week so that I know what to expect.  Either way, I’m doing better this week, I promise.

But for you…. a cookie recipe!  BAHAHAHA.  These were wonderful, but you’ll want to eat them all, so careful!

Photo Courtesy of: Jess Costantini from Beautiful Orange Productions

Crisp Pecan Cookies (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 30 (1 cookie each)
Points Per Serving: 2
Calories Per Serving: 73


  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 23 PP
  • 5 tbsp light butter, 8 PP
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp chopped toasted pecans, 4 PP
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar, 4 PP
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, 12 PP

1. If you haven’t toasted the pecans yet, place them in a dry skillet and cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside.

2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.

3. Combine brown sugar and butter in a bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg white, and beat 1 minute. Stir in flour mixture and chopped pecans. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350.

5. Place 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Divide dough into 30 equal portions. With moist hands, shape each portion into a 1/2 inch ball. Roll balls in 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Place pans in freezer 10 minutes.

6. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until cookies are golden. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Using a fine sieve, sprinkle 4 tsps powdered sugar over cookies.

Photo Courtesy of: Jess Costantini from Beautiful Orange Productions

Browned Brussels Sprouts

Paired with Herbed Peas and Everyday Adobo Chicken!

I’ve really become quite close with brussels sprouts. Ummm, we’re like best friends. They are so fun and tasty! No soggy, lying-in-butter brussels sprouts in my house. I make sure they’re flavorful and firm. I find it strangely satisfying to prepare brussels sprouts. Maybe it’s the fact that they look like Barbie cabbages. Maybe it’s the beautiful green layered look that they have, or maybe it’s the crunch they give when I slice them in half. Either way, they are awesome and I will cook them for the rest of my life!

As much as I love the balsamic glazed brussels sprouts with turkey bacon, I try to stay away from the monotony of repeated dishes. We all need a little less monotony in our lives, especially when you’re trying to be healthy!  I looked through my Cooking Light cookbook and saw this recipe for a quick veggie side dish.  It looked great (albeit quite similar), so I gave it a go!  They turned out great, so I thought I would share it with you.

Perfectly browned!

Browned Brussels Sprouts
Servings: 2
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4


  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, 4 PP when cooked
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 PP
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Just added to the pan!

1. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat (cast iron or non-stick).

2. Clean up brussels sprouts; trim ends and slice in half. Add to pan along with salt and garlic. Stir and cook for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. Add balsamic vinegar. Cook for another few minutes. Serve hot!

It really doesn’t get much easier than this.  And you can really do the same type of thing to other vegetables.  Try this recipe with green beans or broccoli.  Add another spice if you want to change it up just a little.  Or try a different vinegar.  Vegetables are really quite easy to cook, especially when they’re fresh.  Make sure to plan on going to your local farmers market this summer!  The vegetables there are the best ones to cook with!