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


  • 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

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!

Asian-Flavored Quinoa Salad

Photo Courtesy of: Mimsy

This recipe is brought to you by…. Mimsy!  Otherwise known as my mom :)

She took a beautiful photo of this dish after she made it and I thought it looked beautiful and tasty, so I had to share it with the rest of you.  The recipe actually comes from a Weight Watchers Weekly magazine, but Mimsy did make a few substitutions.  And I figured out the point breakdown for her way and their way.

I haven’t actually made this yet, but I’m excited to try it!  The colors look wonderful and the flavors of the ingredients are already great individually, so I can only imagine how yummy they are combined together.

Asian-Flavored Quinoa Salad (from Weight Watchers)
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 6 (with sugar snap peas), 7 (with edamame)


  • 1.5 cups fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 uncooked quinoa (or 1.5 cups cooked quinoa), 12 PP
  • 2 tsp dark sesame oil, 2 PP
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger root
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas (or 1-1.5 cups shelled edamame, 6-8PP)
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 PP
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade, 3 PP (if using low-sugar marmalade, it’s 1 PP)

1. In a small saucepan, combine broth and quinoa; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, to make dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, marmalade, oil, ginger, and salt; set aside.

3. After quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, toss in snap peas (or edamame) to partially steam them; cover and simmer until most of liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in carrots cabbage, peppers, and dressing; mix to thoroughly combine. Garnish with cilantro, scallions, and sesame seeds. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled. Yields about 1 heaping cup per serving.

NOTES: Check the box of quinoa you bought to see if it has been “pre-rinsed”. Of not, rinse the quinoa in a colander before cooking to remove its bitter outer coating. Use prepackaged coleslaw mix or shredded vegetables to speed the preparation of this dish.

Also note – If you used low-sugar marmalade and the sugar snap peas, the PP goes down to 5 PP per serving. If you use low-sugar marmalade and only 1 cup of edamame rather than 1.5, the PP goes down to 6 PP per serving. Mimsy prefers edamame to sugar snap peas because she believes that they don’t overpower the other flavors of the dish, whereas sugar snap peas have a very distinct flavor and tend to be the highlight of any bite where it’s included. I’m sure either way you make this, it’s going to be fantastic!

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


  • 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)

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 :)

Adobo Roasted Potatoes

Perfectly cooked with just enough spice. Add a little ADOBO to your life!

If there’s one culinary thing I’ve learned in the past couple of months, it’s that the best way to make proper “roasted” potatoes is by using a ROASTING PAN.  Imagine that?!?!?  All these years I’ve been making them with cookie sheets thinking they were just as good, but it wasn’t until I made a pork roast with roasted veggies that I actually used my roasting pan… and the vegetables were pure perfection.

I got the roasting pan for either Christmas or my birthday last year and I’ve used it a few times, but there are some kitchen things that I find a hard time understanding their purpose…. like a lemon zester.  Umm, that’s why you get a cheese grater with four different sizes on the sides.  One of them is pretty much a zester.  I’m sure true bakers would strongly disagree with me, though.  To each her own!

Either way, I NOW see the beauty of a quality roasting pan.  And when I decided to do steak and told the girlfriend she was in charge of the side, she chose potatoes (and cut them up) and I spiced them to play off the steak marinade and roasted them in that pan like a pro.  I probably could have put a teeny tiny bit more adobo on them, but it’s all personal preference.  They tasted just like seasoned french fries… without all grease and loads of salt!  I really enjoyed them!  And they would be perfect to cook up in a skillet the next morning (if you have ANY leftovers) as breakfast potatoes and pair em with an egg or two.  Oh, and make sure to bring the ketchup.  Nothing like potatoes and ketchup!

A little ketchup, a lotta love!

Adobo Roasted Potatoes
Servings: 4 (1 cup per serving)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 5


  • 4 cups quartered small white potatoes, 10 PP
  • 2 tbsp Land O Lakes light butter w/ canola oil, softened, 3 PP
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, 7 PP (although you could probably use just 1 tbsp and cut the PP to 4 per serving)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp adobo spice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp peach mango hot sauce (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Put potatoes in a mixing bowl.  Pour in softened butter and olive oil.  Stir.  Then put in all the spices and hot sauce if you’re using it.  Mix well.

3. Pour into roasting pan.  Roast for 30 minutes, take out and mix up, then put it back in for another 15-20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

This is one of those great dishes that you can prepare easily, put in the oven and get other stuff done while it cooks.  Gotta love that!  Now, got get yourself a roasting pan if you don’t have one already!

Couscous with Lime and Scallions

Click here for this Cous Cous and Berries Salad from the Green Girl blog!

Couscous is a wonderful grain.  It’s commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine.  It’s light, fluffy, easy to prepare and soaks up great flavor.  If you haven’t tried making it before, you should definitely start!  Now, start right now.

Click here for this Parmesan Couscous recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen!

There are a lot of different ways to prepare it, but I’m going to start you off with one easy recipe.  The pictures all over the page are linked to other Couscous recipes, so be sure to click on them!  This recipe is based off one that I found in my WW Cookbook. They had 4 times as much scallion in there… and a carrot. It just seemed too busy to me. And scallions can be quite overwhelming. My modifications were great! The girlfriend loved it (although she doesn’t like scallions. She ate around them) and I loved it as well!

Couscous with Lime and Scallions
Serving: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous, 15 PP
  • 1 tsp olive/canola oil, 1 PP
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup diced red/orange pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

Click here for this Pomegranate and Pistachio Couscous recipe from the Closet Cooking blog!

1. Bring water to boil in medium saucepan; add couscous, oil and salt. Remove saucepan from heat; let stand until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork.

2. Combine all remaining ingredients in serving bowl. Add couscous and toss to mix well. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to a week!

Click here for this Spiced Israeli Cous Cous and Vegetables recipe from the Three Many Cooks blog!

There are soooo many ways to turn couscous into a knockout dish.  Fruit, fruit juices, different vegetables, spices, flavored oils, various cheeses, etc.  Try mixing in some chopped green apple, goat cheese and walnuts.  Or maybe cut strawberries, feta cheese and sliced almonds.  Or even pieces of grilled chicken and zucchini, corn, roasted red pepper and some adobo spice.  If you’re in an asian mood, try mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, shredded chicken and some sesame ginger salad dressing!  It’s so quick to make, unlike rice which always takes around 40 minutes from start to finish.  I promise you’ll like it more than you thought you would.

If you like it, I’d recommend buying it in bulk from your local natural-foods store.  It’s much cheaper when you bring it home to your own container!  There’s a few different kinds of couscous too, so try them out; Moroccan is the most common and quickest to cook, Israeli is a big larger and Lebanese is the largest, about the size of a pea and often used in risottos.

Weekly Weigh-In and Southwestern Black Bean Salad

minus 2 lbs!  Dude.  I just reached my third goal of losing 20 lbs!  You know what that means?  I get to buy myself two new cookbooks!  Soooo excited.

This is me after a good workout. See why I’d rather do it at home?

I haven’t been tracking as much lately, but I’ve been very careful about what I put in my mouth. My snacking has gone WAY down. Keeping busy on the weekends really helps with that. Yesterday I only had two big meals and a snack and I was perfectly content (mostly because I didn’t wake up until 10!)  So far the lack of tracking hasn’t stopped me from losing weight, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing! I’m taking a page from the Prior Fat Girl book and just being very aware of my eating, making good choices and getting in that exercise!

One of the tasty dishes that we had last week was definitely a good choice! Wednesday’s meal of Steak Fajitas and Southwestern Black Bean Salad was DELICIOUS. I found the recipe in my WW Cookbook, altered it a little according to our preferences and dug in. We actually added it right on top of our fillings before wrapping up the tortillas. It added great flavor and texture! So, I’m definitely sharing this recipe with you all!

Photo Courtesy of: the Skinny Taste blog

Southwestern Black Bean Salad
Servings: 4 (1 1/2 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4
Calories Per Serving: 163


  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained, 8 PP
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped roasted red pepper (I used a little less than 1/2 a cup of jarred ones), 2 PP
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen corn kernels, 2 PP
  • 1/2 cup shopped fresh cilantro (I used only 1 tbsp of a cilantro paste)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (I used only the white part)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • 4 tsp olive oil, 5 PP
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch black pepper

1. Toss together all ingredients in serving bowl until well mixed. Serve at once or cover and refrigerate up to two days.

Oh, and we had our first softball game of the season yesterday!  We lost to a really great team, but we still had fun playing!  I played first base and did pretty well!  Got a couple outs.  Yay for being able to catch a ball!  I only got to bat once, but I didn’t get to base soon enough.  Time to work on sprinting!  Ah well, it was a lot of fun!  And the girlfriend came out to cheer us on, along with Maxwell (although he had to go wait in the car after the game started because he was going crazy with all the excitement).  Then we all went out to Buffalo Wild Wings for beer!  One Woodchuck and half a serving of popcorn shrimp later we finally got home and nuzzled into bed.  It was the perfect end to a great weekend :)

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!

Herbed Peas

Peas in a pot.

I can’t say I’ve always been a fan of peas. I’ve mostly had them when they were kinda mushy and not well spiced. Now, my girlfriend loooves peas. The last time we went shopping at Trader Joe’s, she picked up two bags of frozen organic peas, so I knew I’d be cooking with them soon!

It’s not that I have anything against peas. They just aren’t my favorite flavor. But these peas are actually really tasty! They’re buttered just right, spiced just right and able to be made either on the stove or in the microwave.

The recipe is based off a recipe from my beloved Cooking Light cookbook. I didn’t have green onions, otherwise my recipe would be exactly the same as theirs. But alas, it is not, and I’m positive that my girlfriend liked these more than she would have liked those! (because she doesn’t like onions). If you have some peas in your freezer that you want to use up, I definitely recommend you try this recipe!

Peas have such a beautiful color!

Herbed Peas
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 2


  • 2 cups frozen peas, 5 PP
  • 2 tbsp light butter, 2 PP
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp thyme

1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and then add frozen peas. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add salt and thyme. Continue cooking; stirring occasionally. Should be done after 5-10 more minutes. Serve hot!

Angela’s Mac ‘n Cheese

Creamy, Cheesy Gooooodness.

There’s something quite wonderful about homemade mac ‘n cheese that makes it beat boxed mac ‘n cheese every single time. Maybe it’s the special blend of cheeses that you see melting together in front of your eyes instead of that orange powder that magically turns into a cheese product. Maybe it’s the beautiful crust of browned carby goodness on top. Whatever it is, it’s real and it’s real good. What’s NOT good is the massive amount of points that come along with such a great cheesy dish!

This is my very first attempt at homemade mac and cheese and I must say, it’s quite good. It’s a softer, white cheese based mac n cheese, but it’s got a bit of a kick! What food that I make does NOT have a kick? Seriously. You’d think my fridge would be crumpled on the floor with all the kicks I give to the food in it ;) I used whole wheat noodles and low-fat cheeses to lower the points and make it a bit healthier. So, here’s my recipe for you to enjoy. I hope my kicks don’t knock you off your feet!

Angela’s Baked Mac ‘n Cheese
Servings: 6 (1 cup each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 10


  • 3/4 cup Sargento RF Mexican blend shredded cheese, 7 PP
  • 1/8 cup Sargento RF Italian blend shredded cheese, 1 PP
  • 3 slices RF sharp cheddar cheese slices, 4 PP
  • 6 oz Velveeta pepper jack cheese, 7 PP
  • 2 oz grated parmesan cheese, 3 PP
  • 2 oz grated romano cheese, 3 PP
  • 2 1/2 cups dry whole wheat organic rigatoni, 13 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups dry whole wheat organic rotelle/spirals, 7 PP
  • 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 PP
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk, 7 PP
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, 3 PP
  • 1 tbsp land-o-lakes light butter with canola oil, 1 PP

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, omitting salt.

2. Preheat oven to 375.

3. Place flour in a large saucepan.  Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended.  Cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly.  Add cheeses; cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently.  Remove cheese mixture from hea; stir in cooked macaroni and salt.

4. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray.  Combine bread crumbs with butter; stir until well blended.  Sprinkle over macaroni mixture.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

You can use your own blend of cheeses if you want to use up what is in your fridge.  Just make sure you have a nice blend!  That’s what I did.  The recipe I based this off of used a lot more cheddar and processed cheese.  Just make sure to count the points!  And, of course, the bread crumbs on top are optional.  I baked this in a casserole dish with the lid on, so the bread crumbs didn’t actually get browned and crunchy, so I’d recommend doing this in a bigger glass or ceramic dish.

Macaroni and Cheese on Foodista

Kickin’ Curried Cauliflower

I have been an editing machine!  The past couple of days I’ve been slowly working through all my recipes to make sure they are up-to-snuff with the PointsPlus system.  I’ve also been including the PP values of all ingredients that have points.  So, I apologize for the lack of attention to your fresh recipe needs.  But I have one for you now!  I made it last night to go with some Indian food and it was even better than the entree!

We know how I am about spice.  My girlfriend says that I tend to over-spice things…. but I just like lots of flavor!  This cauliflower is great.  It’s slightly spicy, a bit nutty and a whole lotta yummy.  Enjoy!

Kickin’ Curried Cauliflower
Servings: 2-3
PointsPlus Per Serving: 2


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 PP
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Break up cauliflower and rinse. Put in a bowl.

3. Mix olive oil, garlic and all spices in a separate bowl. Pour over cauliflower and mix. Spray cookie pan with nonstick spray. Spread cauliflower out on sheet. Bake for about 17-20 minutes until desired tenderness is reached. Make sure to flip halfway through!