Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers

Lots o' veggies.  The key is lots o' veggies.  Honestly, I know my husband prefers the beefy ones but I liked these better.  They had a lot of flavor.  The black rice isnt necessary but it added nuttiness to the pepper.

Stuffed Peppers
Recipe adapted from Food Network Robert Irvine- you can find it here.

6 large bell peppers, tops removed and seeded
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 white onion, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons freshly chopped garlic
2 zucchinis, diced
2 cups cooked Thai black rice
2 large tomatoes
1 cup diced red and green peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Savoy cabbage, chopped (this gives it a lot of flavor)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Wrap the peppers in aluminum foil, and bake in the oven until tender, but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.Or you can drop them into some boiling salted water and take them out when they are just a little wilted.  I prefer the oven method because it is one less pan to clean and I am all about one less pan to clean.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are golden brown. Add in the zucchini, tomatoes, red and green peppers and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Combine this with the cooked rice in a bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in the tomato paste. Remove from the heat and fold in the cabbage. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the cooled peppers. Transfer the peppers to a heat-proof serving dish and top with a little Parmesan if desired.  I didn't have any at that moment so I did them without the cheese. Bake until the peppers are heated through, about 20 minutes.

Calories- about 230 per pepper.  And there is a lot of eating in that huge pepper.  Serve with a nice salad and some lighter style dressing and you have a meal for under 300 calories.  Wahoo!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Apple Pie, Take One

My Mom is the best apple pie maker around.  I have never needed to make apple pie because she has always made it so perfectly and just when I wanted it.  I did want to see if I could do it.  And of course I can, but I need to work out some kinks.

There are some factors in apple pie making.  The biggest factor is the apples themselves.  Different apples will yield different results.  Cooks recommends different apples and they have a whole process for perfect apple pie.  Which I am sure I will try some time but for right now I didn't want to go through all their steps.

The second factor is baking time.  Too much and you could have apple sauce.  Too little and you will have country apple pie.

Then there is also temperature, which can be a major factor.  I wonder if I had the right temperature.  I think I did 350F.  Which probably was my problem.  I think I need to follow someones recipe- because some times my Mom's tried and true way does not work for me because she really doesn't even think about it.  Where I need explicit directions the first time.

The crust... well that was good.  I have used it before. Here.

So here is what I did.  Feel free to give suggestions and comments on what I can improve.

I used all 20 ouncers.  I received them in my CSA.  While I love eating a few with salt on them (yes, salt on my 20 ouncers- not all apples, just if they are tart).  



2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon sugar


4-5  20 ounce apples
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For Crust:  Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Slowly drizzle ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.Once it forms a ball easily, stop adding water and mixing.

Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Pull in sides of wrap as you form it into a disk, tucking the plastic neatly all around.  Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. 
Roll out two rounds of pie.  One for bottom and one for top.
For Filling:  Slice apples, I did eighths.  And mix with flour and sugar and cinnamon.  Mound up in the pie crust.

Place second round of pie dough over top, pinch all around sides.  Cut vent holes in top of pie.

I brushed with egg and sprinkled with course sugar. Add foil around edges to prevent them from burning.

Bake at 350F?  I think this was my big mistake.  Because by the time the crust was done, I had apple sauce for filling.  I recommend 425F  But do consult someone else's wisdom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Yellow Tomato Soup

Yellow tomatoes, in my opinion, and well the opinion of a few others in my family, is kind of bleh.  Why?  Well, they just don't pack the flavor pow like red tomatoes.  There is a good reason for that.  They are lower in acid.  A friend of mine gave me some yellow tomatoes.  In the middle of the tomato frenzy that was my kitchen.  I had just bought a ton of tomatoes for salsa making purposes.  I decided that these yellow tomatoes needed to be tomato soup.  And I have to say I LOVE yellow tomatoes as soup.  They make a really great soup.

Way low in the calorie department.  You could even have a teaspoon of olive oil drizzled over the top and you still would have a soup under a hundred calories.

Yellow Tomato Soup

8 yellow tomatoes, peeled preferably
16 ounces (2 cups) chicken broth
3 leaves of basil and some fresh basil for garnish
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
olive oil for drizzling purposes

Scald tomatoes to peel their skin.  Though if they are really ripe they could just peel off.  Place in a saucepan and cover.  Cook until they have tenderized.  Blend in a blender or use an immersion blender, add chicken broth, garlic and basil.  Refrigerate over night.  Eat cold or warm the next day.  Its a great cold soup BTW.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

End Of Summer Peaches and Flowers

I went to the market last Thursday and was going to get some peaches to freeze because I am just loving those peach smoothies.  I have been making them with and without the nutmeg, with cereal milk and even with peanut butter (sounds crazy but....).  I was so sad because they were gone.  Not one, not one stinkin' peach in the whole joint.  Whaaaaa!

Thank fully I canned these up a few weeks ago.  We will be eating them happily in the thick of winter.  Little tastes of summer in a jar. I use the Ball canning method for peaches.

Preserved Peaches

about 2 pecks of peaches will make about 14 quarts canned
light or heavy syrup
canning jars, washed
canning lids and rings

Step One:  Make Syrup

Prepare light or medium syrup. I prefer light syrup. Simply heat water and sugar in a sauce pan until sugar dissolves.

  • Light – 2 cups sugar to 1-quart water
  • Medium -3 cups sugar to 1-quart water
Step Two: PROCESS PEACHES PLEASE (some alliteration for you)

Scald peaches.  Meaning get a deep frying pan and heat up some water. Once water is boiling places peaches into water.  Take out after one minute, or less and remove skin. Once they have adequately cooled enough for you to handle,  Slice into desired size- I do eighths.  Pack into jars,  Dont shove them in place them in firmly.  Once you have filled up eight quarts, pour syrup into the jar, leaving a 1/4 inch head space.  Place on lid and screw cap down.  Place into canner.  I usually heat my water in my canner so that it is at least warm by the time I start adding my jars to it.  Add the jars all at once and heat the canner up until it is boiling.  I let it boil for 20 minutes before I remove them.  You should check what your time would be as it varies by altitude.  The Ball canning book is a really good reference tool for canning.  Others are nice too but this is the one I always turn to.  Thats their game after all.

Step Three: Take out those jars and Sit back and Relax

Remove jars from canner and let cool.  You will hear their little popping sounds as they seal.  This is their way of telling you that they are all tucked in all cozy like for the next year or so. And, yes, I have even eaten them after two years.  I am crazy like that.  Now sit back and admire your hard work.  Reach your hand up and over your head and give yourself a nice little pat on the back.  You are awesome.  Now doesn't that make you feel all homemaker like?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pulled Pork Wrappers


I made these for a Sunday dinner last week.  Kids ate them up like crazy and so did my parents.  Love that when a recipe pleases young and old.  A rarity.

But really how can you go wrong with pulled pork and cheddar.  Of course you can change up the ingredients to suit your needs and taste.
This cheese is so delicious!
Meal One

1 pork shoulder
1 ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon MSG (yes, you read that right... that's a whole post right there) If you don't have it- Adobo seasoning will work just as good.  Or you can skip it- no biggie.

2 bay leaves
1 large onion quartered
4 cloves of garlic

Place pork shoulder in a crock pot.  I usually brown the pork shoulder on all four sides but this time I didn't.   In a measuring cup place all the ingredients (up to bay leaves) and about 2 cups of water. Mix well and pour over the pork and add bay leaves, garlic and onion. Cook in crock pot until it is falling off the bone- about four to six hours.

Meal one can be some of the pulled pork on some tortillas or on buns with barbeque sauce.

Meal two-

Pulled Pork Wrappers

2 cups pulled pork cubes
1/4 cup cilantro
8 ounces cheddar, shredded
4 scallions, sliced
6 large wraps
oil for baking- I used corn oil

Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine all ingredients except for wraps and oil.  Divide into six portions.  Place 1/6th of recipe in a wrap and roll tightly.  Place on baking sheet with seam down.  Brush with oil and place in oven. Bake until golden. 

These will be nice and crispy.  You could even do flauta sized ones if you like.  I was just interested in getting the job done quickly.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Zucchini Cheddar Tots

These are hands down, some pretty amazing tasty little treats. I am always looking for ways to get my daughters (especially my older one) to eat their vegetables.  These are perfect.  With a little bit of ranch they are absolutely sinful.

Zucchini Cheddar Tots

2 cup shredded zucchini
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup cheddar cheddar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 425F. In a colander place zucchini and salt liberally.  Let sit for about ten minutes.  Rinse and squeeze water out of zucchini.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl  until combined.  Spray mini muffin tins and spoon in batter to top.  Bake for about 30 minutes. If you do not bake them long enough they look like the above ones.  If you bake them to perfection they look like the ones below.  Either way- so yummy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pickled Peppers

Yes, Peter piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but I couldnt find them that way.  I had to do it myself.  Indeed I did.  I like these kind of things mid winter when I want something to go with m sandwich or something to go with my plate of beans.  I do some fresh ones too that go right into the fridge, no cooking, just pickling (you can check out that recipe here because I have made them many times before).

I almost exactly followed the recipe from this site but I did make some adjustments.  Many people get kind of nervous when they veer off the canning recipe course.  And the FDA would wagging their big finger at me... maybe but below is what I did when I canned them.  You do what you need to, I am just recording what I did so I know what to do next time when I can them again.

Pickled Peppers (with a little heat)

1 slice of a jalapeno (add the amount for the kind of heat that you think you would enjoy- you could also substitute cayenne pepper - about an 1/8 of a teaspoon per jar)
10 to 20 firm, fresh peppers depending on their size and thickness
7 cloves of garlic
3-1/2 cups sugar
3 cups Heinz white vinegar
3 cups water
4-1/2 tsp canning or pickling salt

Wash peppers, quarter them, remove cores and seeds, and cut away any blemishes. Slice peppers in strips and carefully lay into jars, fitting as many as possible. Boil sugar, vinegar, and water for 1 minute.  Place 1/2 clove of garlic, one slice of jalapeno and 1/2 teaspoon salt in each sterile pint jars. Pour in vinegar solution, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Process in canner 20 minutes.


*I like to have more than enough peppers to do this.  I am looking to have around seven pints because my canner holds seven jars.  With the extra peppers I make the ones that are fresh for the refrigerator.

*I usually double the brine because  I hate having to make it if I find I dont have enough.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Peachy Keen Smoothie

Somehow I forgot all about Weight Watcher Wednesday.  I will do my best to keep it going.

I was at the market yesterday.  I really have no business being there until after I pick up my CSA.  I can better judge what I need after I find out what I will have.  Eh, but that worked out okay.  Its so easy for me to overwhelm myself with fresh fruits and vegetables. It all looks so good that I go crazy and buy a ton!  Nothing goes to waste though.  I either can it or freeze it or we eat it.  

I picked up a cantaloupe at the market. I made melon balls to entice the children.  I froze the remaining shavings that were not ball size.  And the juice as well.  This morning I made a great smoothie that I wanted to remember.  If I put it on my blog then I can remember.

I think I will buy two more cantaloupes, cube them and freeze them.  Another one of these is in order!

Peachy Keen Smoothie
Okay, its mostly cantaloup but Cantaloupey-keen just didn't roll of my tongue.
4 servings, 100 calories per serving with lots of goodness!

1 cup frozen cantaloupe
1/4 cups orange juice frozen concentrate
1/2 cup V8 Tropical juice
1/2 peach cut up
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup lowfat yogurt

Whiz together in a blender.  Drink up the goodness.  If you eat almonds with it, it tastes amazing!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Millionaire Nuggets

My husband had a company picnic earlier in the week.  I like to bake for his work functions.  I get to bake something I would not usually make.  I can send it on without it sitting in the house where I am too tempted to eat it.  This year the company decided to make a dessert competition.  Wahoo, what fun!  I had to do it.  I knew I wanted to make these bars.

And guess what?  I won.  Best Taste category!  Uh huh!  Very fun!  Two tickets for a movie and two tickets for a car wash.  Yes!  Thank you very much.

This dessert is definitely meant to be shared.  It is REALLY rich.  Delicious.

I did have a few issues with the recipe.  So I would like to refer you to a few other recipes if you would like to try it. They all have a LOT less butter.  Food Network oneMy Baking Addiction., Millionaire Bars.    I will tell you what I did in the recipe below and the stars are next to the items I would change.  The ganache/chocolate topping seized on me.  Lucky for me I added some half and half and it melted once again.  

Millionaire Nuggets

Meant to be bars but I cut the bars in half, making them nuggets.

cookie bottom
2 cups flour
1 cup (8 ounces) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon s baking powder

caramel layer
1 cup butter*
2 cans (28 ounces total) of sweetened evaporated milk
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup sugar*

8 ounces dark chocolate (the recipe called for milk chocolate but I figured since it was going to be so sweet, I wanted dark chocolate)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon corn syrup

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, a little up and over the sides. In a large bowl or a mixer cream butter and sugar.  Beat about four minutes.  Add in vanilla.  In a small bowl combine baking powder, salt and flour. Add to butter mixture just until combined.  Press dough into prepared pan. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted turn up the heat watching closely and stirring often.  You know the caramel is ready when the mixture turns amber. Pour over baked crust and smooth out as much as possible. Cool completely and chill.

In a double boiler, combine chocolate, corn syrup and butter.  (Mine seized on me so I added about a 1/4 cup of half and half).  Heat until smooth.  Remove from heat and pour over caramel layer.