Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome 2009!

I know, not too many posts here these past few weeks. Sorry about that, but I haven't really been menu planning. With the holiday feasts, I haven't been really cooking (except the Luau Christmas Day) so I'm just using what we've had either leftover-wise or pantry-wise instead. It's pretty much a seat-of-my-pants thing.

I don't really do resolutions. I'm going to keep on trying to eat healthier and all that stuff that I've been doing so far. I am going to try to at least write what I'm eating better than I have been doing (Weight Watchers wise). I gave myself a break for the week of Christmas and this week (once more, WW week wise - I weigh in on Tuesdays). This is something that I normally do, and I've been doing it for years now. I write and really pay attention to what I'm eating before Thanksgiving (a lot of times before that depends on how focused I've been.) I don't go totally crazy and eat anything that doesn't move, but I just don't stress either. I pretty much make sure that what I eat is totally worth it. It just works a lot better for me mentally - keeps me out of that "diet" mentality. I gain a few pounds these two weeks, and it's usually not a big gain. But you know what, it's not really a big thing. As long as I go in prepared for it, I'm ok with it.

I figured out what to do with those flavored Coffeemate creamers that I don't like in coffee. So far it's been a Chai and an Eggnog. I make French Toast with them. use them in place of the milk. Points-wise it's not too bad (it would be better if I used Egg substitute or egg whites). This is what I did today:

French Toast (with flavored creamer)

1 2/3 c Eggnog flavored creamer (that was how much was left)
1/3 c fat-free half and half
4 eggs
16 slices Martin's Whole Wheat Potato Bread (1 loaf)

It ended up being 3 points per slice (if I used a whole bottle (2 cups) it would be 4 points per slice)

For dinner we had Hoppin' John and Collards. I added the last of the leftover ham (and Janet's beer sauce) to the collards and some sherry vinegar to the collards.

recipe adapted from the bag of collards

14 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 shallots or 1/2 cup onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb chopped collards

Bring everything but collards to a boil. Add collards and cover, turning heat to medium let simmer for 20 minutes or until collards are as tender as you like.

Hoppin John
From WW "Great Cooking Every Day" (with the CIA)

In the Southeastern United States, Hoppin' John is a traditional New Year's Day dish said to bring good luck in the coming year. For a Southern feast, pair this dish with grilled ham steaks or baked catfish, sauteed or braised greens, such as Southern-stye Kale (p 249), and Country Corn Bread (p 292). Add a dash of vinegar to the greens just before serving, or pass it on the side.
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup fresh or dried black-eyed peas
1 bacon slice, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 crushed red pepper (or to taste)
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig, or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot pepper sauce

Place the black-eyed peas in a pot and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a simmer and cook until the peas are just tender. Bring the water to a simmer and cook until the peas are just tender, about 12 minutes for fresh black-eyed peas, or 1 hour for dried peas. Add more water as necessary to keep the peas submerged during cooking. Drain the peas and reserve.

Cook the bacon in a separate saucepan, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate.

Pour off all but enough bacon fat to lightly coat the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Saute until the onion turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and bell pepper to the pan and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaf, and thyme, and thyme. Cover tightly and cook over low heat until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid, 18-20 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig, fluff with a fork, and gently fold in the bacon. Season, if necessary, with the salt and pepper. Serve with the pepper sauce.

Chef's tips: You can also use canned black-eyed peas, but it is not necessary to cook them spearately in advance. Just drain and rinse them first, then add the peas to the rice during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

To make this dish vegetarian, replace the bacon with 1-2 teaspoons of olive or peanut oil, increase the garlic to 3 cloves, and use vegetable broth or water to replace the chicken broth.

4 POINTS per serving. Per Serving: 238 Calories, 2 g Total fat, 1 g Sat Fat, 3 mg Chol, 221 mg Sod, 45 g Tot Carb, 4 g Dietary Fib, 10 g Prot, 51 mg Calc.

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