True Love

So…

I’m gonna avoid that awkward moment where we discuss what a bad blogger I’ve been.

Yes. I know.

I know it’s been since September. I also know you missed out on a lot of great recipes and excess rambling. But we’re avoiding that, k? Okay, good.

I do think I’ll do that thing I did last year, where I posted a list of all the recipes you missed and let you pick any that you’d like me to back track on. But aside from that, we’re picking up now and moving along.

Now that we got that out of the way, I’d like to tell you the quite rambly-hyper-babbly-full of unimportant details story called today.

I was unusually hyper most of the day. It could have been because I had my second great hair day in a row. Or because I finally discovered my favorite coffee. Or because I dozed off early only to wake up and not be able to sleep until 3am and was actually confusing sleep deprivation with hyper. Whatever the case, it was an unexpectedly great day.

Today I had to be at work at 9am. I “accidentally” snoozed until 8:20. I needed to make coffee, pack a lunch,  and pack breakfast. I decided I did not have time for hair washing. So I predetermined and accepted it would just be bad hair day. But it wasn’t! It’s a fabulous hair day.

And then… something life changing and legendary happened.

Begin story interruption to pause for a brief interjection. I have been watching WAY too much How I Met Your Mother because I really wanted to use the word legendary way too many times by 10am this morning. I might have watched the entire first season on Saturday. End story interruption. 

To backtrack a bit, last night my RA visits and tosses something on my table. It was so casual, so not life changing. “Here, I got this for you.” A free sample of Starbucks new blonde roast coffee.

Mundane. Free. I’ll take anything that’s free. Totally not legendary.

Since I woke up late and had no time to grind my normal (as of December) toasted pecan coffee beans, I reached for the already ground sample. While it brewed, I packed my healthy lunch and picked a cute outfit to go with my good hair day. I put on a sparkly owl necklace and my big over-sized sparkly owl ring. It was that kind of day. The kind where it’s okay to wear big blingy over-sized sparkly owl rings.

And then… I poured the coffee. The color intrigued me. It was so… inviting. I measured out my creamer and added my sweetener of choice. I grabbed my purse and my work bag (which is just an excuse to have two purse-y things and carry even more unnecessary stuff around) and my lunch bag. Okay so I carry three bags. Don’t judge me. Right before I walked out the door I took my first sip.

LIFE CHANGING!

I’ve never been one of those people who have a favorite coffee. I love Starbucks specialty drinks, which I could give you a list numbered  and bulleted with notes and seasonal details in order of which of those are my favorite. However, those are the cocktails of coffee. Even non-coffee drinkers can find one of those they like. Thus, I always felt like I was a minor league coffee drinker because I didn’t have a favorite and couldn’t tell the difference in normal brewed drip coffee. I mean don’t get me wrong, bad coffee is bad coffee everywhere, but everything else tastes the same to me. Maybe a hint of this or that, but all in all, it’s the same.

But today… My life changed. I officially have a favorite coffee. It felt like gold hitting my taste buds. So smooth and velvety. I am in love. Hyper. Rambly. Babbly. Dramatic. But in love. With a cup of coffee.

My good day and life changing, legendary coffee experience was so poetic it made me want to write and blog again. And you know me. I can’t post a blog without a recipe. What goes best with life changing coffee? Scones! I’m back on the healthy wagon and putting away all those not so healthy holiday treat recipes until next year. But as you know, healthy is and can be yummy too! Thanks skinnytaste.com for always giving me modified “skinny” treats to satisfy my sweet tooth and scratch that I must bake at least once a week itch. I made her Skinny Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Scones to have for breakfast this week. Only 5 points each and really yummy! I followed the recipe exactly and oh how yummy one of these tasty little scones were with aforementioned legendary coffee.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year!

Nope. Not Christmas… AUTUMN! Okay… technically it’s not until September 22nd, but almost! It’s close enough for me to begin celebrating all things fall!! Living in the Louisiana (the land of few trees and even fewer than change colors) for the past four autumns, I forgot that Mississippi and places in the south can actually have autumn! Some of the trees are starting to change already. Driving down the interstate, a breeze of wind caught the leaves of a cute little yellow tree and they magically fluttered through the air. I actually got tears in my eyes and squealed “fall” in utter bliss with a big smile while driving in my car. So in my world, it is officially time to light the fall candles, put out the fall candy (it’s so cute in a mason jar!), bake all the fall things, and hang my homemade fall wreath!

And so this weekend, the official weekend of the end of summer, I fully welcomed autumn with all the love I could deliver! How you might ask? A party with the kitchen, a few cans of pumpkin, and me! I’m so thankful for this season coming now! After a month of all the chaos that is the beginning of a school year in the higher education world, I’m finally back. Life has been so busy, three weeks of training, and the first hectic week of school and students moving in. I haven’t been able to workout or eat properly at all! The good news, I didn’t gain! The bad news, I didn’t loose anything but my motivation. The coming of the season I love was just what I needed to find my motivation. I literally haven’t cooked or planned a meal in a month (food provided, eating out, lots of cereal, etc.). This week, that all changed. I planned meals for the next three weeks and had a pumpkin/autumn extravaganza!

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Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese

I took this recipe directly from my favorite recipe blog skinnytaste.com. I didn’t have agave nectar, so I added 3 extra tablespoons of brown sugar instead of the 2 tablespoons of agave. She mentioned that agave was sweeter. So, I started with 2. It wasn’t quite sweet enough, so I added 1 more. It’s SOOO good. I’ve been eating it with apples, but I can’t wait to try it on bagel thins as well. The recipe makes a little over a cup. It’s made with 1/3 less fat cream cheese and 1 point per tablespoon. I am fairly certain I will keep this in my fridge until spring reappears! 
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Pumpkin Butter

This recipe also came directly from skinnytaste.com . I didn’t make any changes at all. She suggests 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, according to your taste. I LOVE pumpkin pie spice, so I used two. She says you can use apple cider or juice, I used juice. 2-3 cinnamon sticks, I used 3. I used Libby’s canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). Can I just tell you, this is amazing! In the comments on her blog post people asked how long it would last in the fridge, and she says 3 days. It makes A LOT, like 4 cups a lot. I plan on using it past 3 days though. I did some research and most places said you could use apple and pumpkin butters longer, up to 3 weeks. BUT still, there is no way I’d use 4 cups, so I am freezing some in ice cube trays for individual portions to store in a freezer ziplock bag. I do believe I will eat this for breakfast every day this week! It would be fabulous on pancakes, waffles, biscuits… Oh my gosh… MUST MAKE BISCUITS! My mouth is watering thinking about this yummy spread on biscuits. It’s only 3 points for a 1/4 cup! This yummy pumpkin butter is also a the key ingredient in….

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Pumpkin Spiced Lattes


Another recipe straight from my favorite! Anyone else anticipate the re-release of Starbucks’ pumpkin spiced latte every year? Or the pumpkin spiced coffee creamer that only comes out around the holidays each year. I am ecstatic when this happens every autumn! Gina (Skinny Taste’s author) to the rescue again! I followed the recipe exactly, except… It makes 2 serving and I definitely drank all of it! 3 points a serving (or 6 if you drink both like me). You need this! I also looked up how to make espresso in a coffee pot. 1 tablespoon of coffee per 1/4 cup of needed espresso. So I brewed 2 cups of water + 8 tablespoons of coffee. I’ll save the rest for another batch tomorrow. 
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And then, with all the yummy sweet pumpkiny things. I had to have an equally yummy fall dinner right? What better way to do that than in the crock pot?! My crock pot, Tyler Duff Crock Pot to be exact, is my favorite cooking tool for autumn and winter. It’s just so warm and cozy! Chicken was on sale at Sam’s, which isn’t a typical crock pot meat, but I worked with what I had and threw some stuff together that came out really yummy!
Fall in a Crock Pot Chicken


For sounding more professional, in the picture I named it Autumn in a Pot. But doesn’t fall in a crock pot sound so funny? Funny image for sure. But really, the ingredients kind of did fall in the crock pot! 
Ingredients:
-1 large sweet onion
-3 sweet potatoes, cubed
-3 boneless skinless chicken breast
-1 cup dried cranberries
-3 or 4 small Gala apples, sliced
-1 package chicken gravy mix
-chicken broth
-McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
-salt
-pepper
I tossed the onions in first, cut in half, quarters, and then once more. Threw the cubed potatoes on top of that. Sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and the McCormick seasoning. Seasoned the chicken breast on both sides with the same seasonings. Sprinkled the gravy mix over all of that. Tossed the apples and cranberries on top, poured over 1 cup of chicken low sodium, fat free chicken broth. I finished it with a little more of the maple seasoning, some nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick. Put the lid on, cook on high for 4 hours, and don’t touch. It was really yummy! Very much an autumn meal: cozy, warm, and filling. 
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AND since I’m determined to eat healthy this week, I whipped up some fruity chicken salad to use for lunches. I usually do good with breakfast and dinner but not so good with lunch unless I have leftovers or plan! Breakfast this week will be full of pumpkin goodness! Since canned chicken was also on sale at Sam’s, chicken salad sandwiches will make my lunches happy!
I don’t use any full fat mayonnaise! I use a tad of fat free mayo and for the rest of the “wet” I use fat free sour cream.  A big can of chicken, dried chives, ground sage, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. Red seedless grapes and 1 gala apple chopped. Perfect as a sandwich and yummy on crackers too! 
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Stay tuned tomorrow for Brownie Batter Dip, Strawberry Fluff, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce! Also, if you haven’t heard of pinterest.com, you are missing out! It’s a virtual pin board! You can “pin” things you find on the web and like or things you make yourself (I’ve started pinning all my recipes). BUT the best part is browsing other pins. Everything from food, to DIY projects, to clothes, to crafts, EVERYTHING! You should follow me: pinterest.com/kasialindsay!
I hope you can enjoy and celebrate fall too! Or mourn the last official weekend of summer, if you must. (If you are one of *those* people, hehe kidding, I love you even if you don’t love the coming season as much as me!) Happy healthy eating!

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

I LOVE strawberries. As soon as spring arrives and the cost drops you better believe they will be in my refrigerator. They are a “free” food on weight watchers and like candy! I was browsing recipes to make for community group and didn’t want to purchase any ingredients. I wanted to work with what I had and happened upon a strawberry shortcake cookie recipe! Um.. yes please?! If you want the full fat recipe (which is totally acceptable sometimes particularly when feeding other, hehe) you can find the one I based mine from here. I adapted the recipe quite a bit to make it Weight Watchers friendly!

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies



Ingredients with points: 

6 tbsp Brummel and Brown yogurt butter (6 points)
2 tbsp fat free sweet condensed milk (3 points)
little less than 1/2 cup of fake buttermilk (1 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar) (3 points)
2 tbsp sugar (2 points)
1 cup whole wheat flower (8 points)
1 cup all purpose flour (8 points)
1/2 cup sugar (8 points)
“Free” Ingredients: 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp splenda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, stir together the strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the splenda and set aside. In a large bowl (or stand mixer mixing bowl with flat paddle) mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Spoon the Brummel and Brown into the flour mixture 1 spoon at a time until you have coarse crumbs. Add fat free sweet condensed milk and 1/2 cup of fake buttermilk to the bowl and stir until the dough starts to come together. Gently fold in the strawberry mixture. If the mixture is too dry add more of the fake buttermilk, but not much! I used 2/3 and it was too much, they were too moist. 

Spoon a tad over 1 measuring tablespoon of dough onto a prepared baking sheet or cooking stone. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool for a few moments then transfer cookies to wire racks to continue cooling. The cookies are best the day they’re made, but can be kept in an airtight container for 1 day.

38 points / 3 dozen / 1 point each
A little side note. Don’t know what to do with the rest of that fat free sweet condensed milk? Add a tablespoon for 1.5 points to a bowl of sliced fresh peaches, nectarines or strawberries or add it to your iced coffee! A decadent treat!

Make Ahead Sweet and Savory Breakfast Muffins

I’ve seen the idea a lot lately, from friends, food blogs, the Food Network, and Weight Watchers meetings and materials of making breakfast early in the week to eat the whole week. I was hesitant to give it a try until recently. Why you ask? Because I am so predictable and OCD organized that I sometimes fight against adding more rituals. So I didn’t want to be boring and eat the same thing for breakfast everyday! (Also, something I mix up my shower routine on purpose just to convince myself I’m not predictable). I was scared I’d tire of eating the same thing and then it would go to waste and that’s a big no no! But, in Weight Watchers our instructor gave us a bran muffin recipe that actually looked edible!




I loved them! I used Kroger brand strawberry yogurt. And that should be 1/4 cup of Parkay Spray margarine. I used the optional oat, splenda and cinnamon topping and they were pretty! I plan on experimenting with these by making pumpkin bran muffins! I’ll update you when I do :). These are just 3 points a piece and not your typical cardboard bran muffins.

So, these opened my mind to the prepare breakfast for the week idea, which lead me to today’s creation! I’m not sure whether to call them Egg Muffins or Crustless Quiche. Looking at recipes I saw both. I encountered the concept from a friend doing South Beach Diet. They are apparently a big South Beach Diet thing. Weight Watchers version were called Crustless Quiches. I think I like that better because it sounds fancy! These could easily be served as a party food too. I based my recipe off of this recipe, but completely made it my own. I didn’t use wonton wrappers and my recipe is 1 points for 2!!

Crustless Mini Quiches

Ingredients with points: 
1 cup egg beaters (4)

3 tbsp bacon bits (3)
3 tbsp reduced fat Parmesan grated topping (3)
1 can (1 1/2 cups) fat free evaporated milk (12)
6 slices deli honey smoked turkey (1)
2 slices fat free american cheese (2)

“Free” Ingredients:
1 small vidila finely chopped
1/4th tsp salt
1/8th tsp pepper
1/8th tsp onion powder
1/8th tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chives
1 tsp parsley
(I actually have no ides on the measurements of the spices and herbs, so just do it to taste and look!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Saute onions until just almost translucent and set aside to cool. Whisk together egg beaters, milk, spices and herbs. Add bacon bits and Parmesan cheese, whisking together. Finely chop deli turkey and stir in. Stir in cooled onion. Finely chop 2 slices of fat free american cheese and sprinkle in (you could sub any cheese you like or have). If you have mini muffin liners, use them! If not, be sure to spray your pan well. I didn’t have them and they came out fine! Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are puffed up and golden brown.

Let them cool in the pan for just a few minutes. They will deflate a little. Run a butter knife around the edge of each to remove and place on a cooling rack to cool. It makes 36 mini muffins. Made like this, they are only 1 point for 2!! They keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, reheat well and freeze well!

Zucchini Noodle "Alfredo" Lasagna

So, I’m not sure if technically speaking we can call this lasagna. I am a nerd and looked up to definition. Lasagna does specifically refer to the pasta, BUT other people call it that so we can too!

I was inspired by a friend who tried something similar, the fact that I had a HUGE fresh zucchini from my Pawpaw’s garden and Hungry Girl’s recipe. I pretty much used her recipe as a big base and made it my own. I used sun dried tomato basil laughing cow cheese wedges instead of just the swiss. I didn’t use any noodles at all. I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta. I added ground turkey instead of mushrooms and spinach (because it’s what I had). Lastly, I topped it with just Parmesan and no mozzarella (because I didn’t have any).

So I give you what I’m calling…

Zucchini Noodle “Alfredo” Lasagna

Ingredients with points:
4 sun dried tomato laughing cow cheese wedges (4) or substitute any of the low fat Laughing Cow varieties
1 cup FF cottage cheese (3) or can substitute 1 cup fat free ricotta (5)
3/4 cup fat free sour cream (3)
1/4 cup egg beats (1) or can substitute 1/4 cup liquid egg whites / 1/4 cup egg beaters (1)
1 lb ground turkey (24)
6 tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan topping, divided (6)


“Free” ingredients:
1 extra large zucchini or 3 small zucchini, end removed
1 medium vidilia onion
2 small bell peppers (I used 1 yellow and 1 green)
2 tsp. chopped garlic, divided
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp Italian seasoning


Directions:
Preheat oven to broil on low. Slice zucchini. I used my mandolin on the thin setting slicing length wise. You can also cut it in half widthwise, and then slice each half lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and begin broiling zucchini slices in batches to get a lot of the moisture out. 


While zucchini is broiling add thinly sliced onion, bell pepper, and 1 tsp of garlic to a heated pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray (if you aren’t counting points like I am, you can use olive oil, just be aware it will rise the nutrition facts). I added a couple of tablespoons of water to help the veggies cook down. I also sliced my onion and bell pepper on thin with my mandolin. You can also chop them if you’d like. I just like how pretty the round thin slices are. Add 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and sprinkle with salt. Add lean ground turkey. I used 85/15 BUT I rinsed it with warm water after to get the extra oil out. Drain (and rinse if you didn’t have the leanest meat) and set aside. 


In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, egg beater (or egg whites), other tsp of garlic, oregano, basil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Stir in ground turkey and set aside. To make the sauce, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine sour cream with cheese wedges, breaking cheese wedges into pieces as you add them. Stir in 2 tbsp. Parm-style topping, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Microwave in 30 – 45 seconds intervals, stirring in between until very warm. Stir until smooth and set aside. 


Change oven temperature from broil to 425. Spray an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray. Blot your zucchini slices to remove any excess moisture. Evenly place 1/3rd of the cooked zucchini strips on the bottom. Spread half of the cottage cheese-turkey mixture on top. Evenly top with a thin layer of zucchini, followed by 1/3rd of the sauce. Repeat layering with the same amounts of zucchini, cottage cheese-turkey mixture, and sauce. Evenly top with remaining zucchini, followed by remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 4 tbsp Parm-style grated topping. Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese starts to brown.

You can add salt and pepper to taste if you’d like. I served it with a side salad. 




6 servings / 7 points a serving!

The Perfect Summer Wake Ups

I love coffee. Love love love. But I’m weird and I can’t drink hot things when it’s hot outside. I also can’t eat soups. Soups, hot coffee, cider, hot cocoa, chilli, they just belong in cooler weather for me. I’ve shared the cold brew coffee recipe previously. It is a great one and I love it! Perfect for iced coffee. But what’s better than iced coffee?? BLENDED COFFEE! I love frappucinnos, frappes, whatever they are called at their different stores. BUT they are way too expensive and not as low in points as I’d like them! All you need are a few things and you can make these for only 2 points and right in your own home!

Vanilla Caramel Frappe


What you need:
-a blender (I just have a mini one and it works fine)
-1 cup skim milk
-1 cup ice cubes
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tsp Splenda
-2 tsp of Splenda sweetened caramel coffee syrup like these (I am actually going to order all of the flavors this week and experiment! But you can buy the caramel and vanilla at Wal-mart or Kroger right on the coffee isle.)
-1 to 3 tsp of instant coffee (I actually just use the Wal-mart brand! But Folders and other brands have them too at any Wal-mart or Kroger.)

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend! I use 2 tsp of coffee, but I like a strong coffee flavor. If you like it weaker use less, stronger use more. I like sweet coffee too, but if you don’t nix the extra teaspoons of Splenda! (Also, if you don’t have the caramel syrup and need a cold coffee fix NOW add 4 tsp of Splenda. Or maybe for some crazy reason you don’t like caramel, that’s acceptable.. I guess. Hehe.) You could also top this with a little fat free Cool Whip or Reddi Whip if you want to get really fancy! All you have to count as points is the 1 cup of skim milk which is 2 points (unless you use A LOT of Cool Whip or Redi Whip or a non-fat free version of either). I have one of these every morning! I can’t wait to get the other syrups in and try peppermint mocha, white chocolate raspberry, mocha coconut and endless possibilities! And don’t worry, I will share all my magnificent combinations with you :).

Need some ideas of what to eat with your new yummy coffee beverage? Breakfast is an important meal! Don’t skip it. People who eat breakfast are far more successful with weight loss and maintenance than those who don’t. The possibilities are endless! You don’t have to box yourself into only eating cereal or oatmeal for breakfast! Make it fun with iced, blended and spiced up coffee, but don’t forget to add some substance! I heard on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss this week that when you don’t eat breakfast it sends a message to your body to store fat!! Do you want any extra fat stored?! I sure don’t! I’ll share a few things I love.

  • Whole wheat bagel thins for 3 points (like a bagel but not nearly as many points and just as yummy!) with 2 tbsp1/3 less fat (2 points) or fat free (1 point) strawberry cream cheese. You could use any flavor of cream cheese you like or a laughing cow cheese wedge variety for 1 point. 4-5 points total. 
  • Whole wheat light English muffin for 3 points toasted with 4 slices of Oscar Myer precooked bacon for 2 points and a slice of 2% cheese for 1 point. SOO yummy! Microwave the bacon (usually 35 seconds) then build the breakfast sandwich and microwave for just 20 second to melt the cheese. 6 points total. 
  • Add fruit (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, peaches) or nuts to your cereal or oatmeal. Most oatmeals, unless you get one of the outrageously sweetened ones, are low in points. Most cereals, however, are not! So choose wisely. All the Special K varieties are good choices. I also love puffed wheat! It’s like sugar smacks without the sugar but I always add Splenda and fruit. 1 cup is 1 point! As compared to most cereals that are 4-5 points for 3/4th to 1 cup. 
  • Cinnamon toast – Toast 2 slices of Sara Lee 45 calorie bread (I use multigrain, and you could use any bread, but I like the Sara Lee because it’s 3 points for 2 slices vs. the 4 points of most breads). Spray each side with Parkay spray butter for 0 points. Sprinkle with Splenda and cinnamon! 3 points total. 
  • Banana sandwich – This is sooo filling! It will definitely take you all the way to lunch. 2 slices of 45 calorie bread toasted for 3 points. Spread with 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter on each side for 2 points. Slice a banana and build the sandwich! 5 points total. 
  • Weight Watchers shakes – You can buy the Weight Watchers shake packets from any Weight Watchers class. They are 2 points if you use water, 4 if you use skim milk. I keep the chocolate on hand at all times, but they do have other flavors too. I always use milk to get in my 2 dairy servings for the day. I have made mine in the blender with frozen strawberries as ice cubes. YUM! I’ve also made them with 1 cup of ice and 3 tsp of instant coffee granules. 
  • Egg Mugs – Oh my gosh these are amazing and sooo easy! If you have a refrigerator at work you could just always keep a carton of egg beaters there to always be able to make this for breakfast! You can find tons of recipes here, here, here, here, or here. Hungry Girl does these and they are just brilliant! Most are 2-3 points depending on what ingredients you add. It’s scrambled eggs in a cub basically! My favorite ways are with sundried tomato basil laughing cow cheese and either bacon bits or sliced deli turkey meat and green onions. I always add salt, pepper and onion powder to mine too. 
Feel free to post some of your own ideas and favorites. If you don’t get Hungry Girl’s emails you should! She sends Weight Watchers friendly, healthy, easy, practical recipes a few times a week. 

The Best Not-Berry Desserts

I always say the strawberry is my favorite berry, BUT it’s not actually a berry! It’s an accessory fruit, whatever that is. I love that little luscious juicy red fruit, berry or not. It’s so yummy it needs no friends to make it better at all! But oh how much yummier desserts are when the strawberry makes an appearance! I find myself unable to make a summer dessert without the use of strawberries! And so… I must share these desserts with you.

Red White and Blue Trifle
I used skinnytaste.com’s exact recipe. Only hers was a lot prettier than mine. This is sooo good and EASY! I sliced my strawberries on my mandolin for even easier preparation. You should definitely make this for your 4th of July celebration! It’s only 4 points for an entire cup! I promise no one will be able to tell it’s low fat and Weight Watcher friendly!

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake
I made this one for my RAs last semester. It was their favorite dessert and they attest that it does not taste figure friendly at all! I used this skinnytaste.com recipe with a few modifications. I used a premade reduced fat graham cracker crust. I made the filling exactly the same. I used Kroger brand honey flavored greek yogurt instead of vanilla. It was so yummy! 5 points a slice. A “normal” slice of cheesecake can rank up to 12 or more points a slice!


Strawberry Trifle
This recipe is all me. I had the vision for it and thought it would be called a trifle, but did some research to be sure. The cake part of traditional English trifles are soaked in some sort of liquid, normally an alcohol. This (the soaking not the alcohol) inspired my recipe to perfection!

1 box angel food cake mix
1 pkg sugar free french vanilla pudding
2 8oz tubs of fat free cool whip
1 1/2 cups of skim milk
juice of 2 oranges
zest of 1 orange
2 pts of strawberries

I baked a box cake mix angel food cake and let it cool. FYI, I tried making a completely homemade angel food cake and it’s not worth it! I always like to try to do everything from scratch at least once to see if it actually is better. OFTEN it is better homemade, like in the case of pound cake or spice cake etc. But I am not afraid to use a box ever, particularly if it’s equal in taste and costs less. In the case of angelfood, it does! To do homemade angelfood you have to use 12 whole egg whites. A. That’s a lot of eggs! B. That’s a lot of egg yolks to do what with? So I say, go for the box or a premade one, I prefer making the box one to a premade one. While it’s baking and cooling slice strawberries (I of course use the mandolin). I let their juices form a little in just a little splenda, you don’t need much. It doesn’t need to produce as much juice as you’d need for strawberry shortcake. Prepare the pudding with 1 1/2 cups of fat free milk. Fold in one container of cool whip and let it soft set. I use my Kitchenaid mixer to do all of that! Just easier AND I love using it. Use the wisk for mixing in the milk and the flat beater attachment on low to fold in the cool whip. Once cake is cool, break it into bite sized pieces. Pour the juice from the oranges evenly over the cake, tossing to make sure all the cake gets saturated in some juice. Layer half of the cake, half of the strawberries, all of the pudding, rest of the cake, rest strawberries and top with the other container of cool whip. Sprinkle orange zest evenly on top. I’ve made this twice and everyone loves it! It’s so light and fluffy and the orange is a perfect compliment. It’s about 5 points per cup.

My last suggestion is always have a box of angel food cake on hand! It’s a fat free cake and there is so much you can do with it. Mix it with a can of crushed pineapple and bake in a 9×13, top with cool whip, yum! Mix it with crushes strawberries and bake topping with cool whip and strawberries juiced in splenda. You can also mix it with a can of pumpkin! It’s a great thing to have around for baking up a sweet treat that taste indulgent without indulging all your daily points (or calories) in something you will regret! (Though I do highly recommend making room for those decadent splurges every once in a while! Don’t deprive. Diets are for depriving. Weight loss is more effective and healthier as a life style change!)

Friday Night Dinner

There is something I love about cooking dinner just for myself on Friday night. I’m not sure why, but it just feels like a treat. Tonight’s selection was super yummy! I’ve been trying to cook fish more. It’s such a low point selection and super yummy and filling. I recently got a bag of frozen tilapia filets at Sam’s. So now it’s time to experiment!


Tonight’s experiment was a pesto tilapia served with a maltagliata pesto and caramelized vidalia onion pasta and a grilled watermelon salad with a balsamic reduction and blue cheese. 


Baked Pesto Tilapia
4 frozen tilapia filets
2 tbsp pesto (I got mine from Sam’s, you could also make your own)
salt
olive oil cooking spray


Preheat oven to 425. Rinse frozen filet and place each on a foil lined olive oil cooking spray sprayed baking sheet. Lightly salt each side (I used kosher). Spoon 1/2 tbsp of pesto on each filet and rub on the top. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Fish should flake when ready. 


4 oz tilapia filet is 2 pts, 1/2 tbsp of pesto is 1 pt. 3 points per 4 oz filet! Not bad.


Maltagliata Pesto & Caramelized Vidalia Onion Pasta
Okay, so I totally made up this pasta and the name. I bought lasagna noodles but had no intention of making lasagna. I wanted to experiment with them. So through some google searching I found out the term for poorly cut past is maltagliata pasta. It was for sure poorly cut by me! I boiled it like normal then sliced them in half down the middle (hamburger fold) and then in half again (hot dog fold). And viola… maltagliata pasta!


1 pkgs of whole wheat pasta of your choosing (I used lasagna and wanted a “messy” pasta, but you can use anything! Just don’t call it maltagliata hehe)
8 tbsp pesto
1-2 vidalia onions
minced garlic (optional)
olive oil spray 
1/2 cup of water or chicken stock
salt


Prepare your pasta per package directions. Never ever forget to salt your pasta water! It’s the only chance you get to season the pasta. If you use lasagna and want to make a maltagliata, cut it to your liking. I wanted thick noodles, but you could cut it even smaller. While you’re cutting up your pasta (or while it’s boiling if you aren’t cutting it), place thinly sliced vidalia onion in a heated and olive oil cooking spray sprayed pan. I sliced my vidalia on the thin blade of my mandolin. I used one but next time I’d probably use two bc I LOVE sweet caramelized onions. Let the onions get nice and limp. If the pan starts to get to dry add more cooking spray. Cook them to a caramel/tan color. I also sauteed them with some minced garlic. This is optional since pesto already has garlic in it, but I never mind garlic. As long as I’m single anyway, hehe. I added the pasta and tossed it with the onions then began adding the pesto 1 tbsp at a time, tossing and coating the pasta in each layer. Once I had half the pesto added, I added about 1/2 cup of water (could use chicken stock). I added the rest and let it cook down until the liquid was gone. Top with Parmesan and serve!


1 cup is 7 points. 


Grilled Watermelon Salad
I roughly used this recipe. I grilled mine on my grill/panini maker. I used olive oil cooking spray instead of olive oil. My one suggestion is be sure that your slices are thick enough so they don’t cook too much. Mine got a little to limp. I liked the bits that still had the crunch. I used blue cheese instead of goat cheese, and not nearly 1 cup. I just sprinkled a bit on each salad. The balsamic reduction was my favorite! So easy. You litterally just reduce balsamic until its a syrup. It’s actually sweet! I want this on every salad! I also served mine atop romaine and not spicy salad greens (A. it’s what I have and B. it’s what I prefer). 


The only points you count are for whatever cheese you use!


Dips and Sauces

This post is all about some of my go-to dips and sauces. In the words of my dear friend Stacy, “if there’s dip, it’s a party!”

Pumpkin Pie Dip

(from skinnytaste.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (Splenda would work too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  • 6 oz fat free Greek yogurt (I used Kroger brand)
  • 8 oz cool whip free (or Kroger brand fat free whipped topping)
  • cut up apples to dip

DIRECTIONS:

Mix pumpkin with brown sugar, vanilla and spices, blend well. Mix in yogurt. Fold in cool whip and chill in refrigerator until ready to eat. Makes about 6 cups. 3 points for 1/2 cup serving.

Tzatziki Sauce

(from skinnytaste.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz fat free greek yogurt
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded (1 cup grated and drained)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Strain yogurt using a metal strainer or a coffee filter for a few hours to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside. Scoop seeds out of peeled cucumber with a spoon. Place cucumber in a mini food processor or grate with a box cheese grater. Drain the liquid from the  cucumber in ametal strainer and sprinkle with a little salt (this helps release the liquid). You may want to use the back of a spoon to help squeeze out any excess liquid. Combine strained cucumber, garlic, yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice, dill, chives and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Makes about 2 cups. Store in refrigerator for about a week. ¼ cup is is 0 points! ½ cup is 1.

Bleu Cheese Dressing

(from skinnytaste.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 6 oz fat free yogurt
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise (I used olive oil mayo)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Smash the blue cheese and yogurt together with a fork. Stir in mayo, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic powder until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 1 cup. 2 tablespoons is 1 point! It’s also really yummy with a baked buffalo chicken recipe I altered.

Baked Buffalo Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 (4 ounce) chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoom vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of parkay spray butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (it called for celery seed but I didn’t have it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup above blue cheese dressing 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook 4 minutes each side until browned. Place chicken in an 9X13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine hot sauce and next 4 ingredients. Pour over chicken and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Serve with bleu cheese dressing.

Okay so, bake buffalo chicken isn’t a dip, but it has a killer homemade buffalo sauce AND is best served with homemade bleu cheese dressing.

And then there is the ever faithful staple in my fridge – dry ranch + 16 oz of fat free sour cream = 1 pt per 1/4 cup! Never choke down boring raw veggies. If there’s dip, it’s a party! 

Day 2

Some notes about today. Don’t eat spinach artichoke dip. It’s not worth the points. If you have a dinner date (or belated birthday dinner date with your cousin) check online menu’s before hand! I went to dwlz.com to find points values for food at the restaurant I was going to (Applebee’s) to find out exactly what I was going to order before I got there! Simple preparation can help you make healthier decisions instead of choosing what looks good on a whim. AND Bop’s has fat free frozen yogurt!