Monday, April 27, 2009

A Homebody Weekend

This weekend was spent at home, and it was nice to be a homebody for the weekend.. We had Mike and Jennifer over for dinner on Saturday night. Jennifer had requested Chicken Enchiladas that I had made for her birthday last year so along with those I just bought a bag of nachos and some salsa and cheese dip. I would have made homemade chips and cheese sauce but with it being 90 degrees (or more, I didn't actually check to see what it ended up being) I really didn't want the oven on for longer that it had to be. We didn't have the A/C on that night, just used fans, but on Sunday with Miko we finally relented and turned it on. I feel horrible about having the A/C on in April but she just wasn't herself on Sunday. Since she's a smushed-face breed we really need to watch the temp in the house. And now that she's getting older too, we're getting more worried about her too I guess.

John and I were watching Mr. Ed yesterday and we laughed at how the old shows had the couples sleeping in separate beds. At that point the wife, frustrated with the husband informed him that he would be sleeping on the couch if he kept his antics up. We then discussed that it wasn't much of a threat since they're already in separate beds, much less, he's got that great stable for Ed too. We also got to watch some of the Magnificent Seven. Neither of us have yet to see all of it. *sigh* It's that way for a lot of older movies for me, I've seen parts of them, and not always in the correct order, but usually not the whole thing.

I've started the Walk-It Challenge that Weight Watchers has put out on Monday. Actually Miko and I have both started it. I got reprimanded by the vet because she had gained 4 lbs since we were last there 6 months ago. I missed walking on Saturday because of the heat (I didn't think about it when planning my day since I usually walk later in the day and with Mike and Jennifer coming over it changed my timeline too). I'll have to change to my early morning/late evening walks (when it's cooler) that I do during summer instead of the early evening (when it's warmer) that I do during winter. I now have a reflective vest that I can wear when it gets dark so I feel a bit safer while walking too. We don't live on a busy street, but the fact that it's a country road with no street lights makes it really dark. I think I might also change their suggested rest days to be off on the weekend totally too, it's just easier for me to get my walks in during the weekday than the weekend since we're usually doing something and I don't always know my schedule during the weekend.

Here's my menu for the week, not sure how well I'm going to stick with it- It was already planned out for me (by me) but I don't feel like hitting a grocery store for some of the things I'll need. I'll either change the menu or improvise (with improvise being the thing I'll more likely do). For more menu ideas visit:

Monday: Spanish Tortilla with Spinach
Tuesday: Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pierogies
Wednesday: Carolina Baked Beans & Pork Chops
Thursday: Southern Slow Cooker Chicken and Grits
Friday: Fontina, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizzas
Saturday: Corn Casserole
Sunday: Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Leftover Roast Chicken Soup

Spanish tortilla with spinach
Serves 4
A popular tapa served in bars and cafes across Spain, tortilla is a versatile treat that is served warm or at room temperature, for lunch or with drinks. The traditional recipe calls for potatoes fried in olive oil and combined with eggs (and sometimes onion), all cooked into a thick omelet. Like Italian frittata, which it most resembles, there are many variations. Here, spinach is added to the egg-potato batter before the tortilla is cooked. Flipping the tortilla is the only tricky part. Slide it onto a plate, top it with another plate, and invert them together. Then slide the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking. After making one, you'll want to do it again quickly and have tortilla on hand, just like every Spanish home does.

Salt and pepper, to taste
4 1/2 ounces (4 packed cups) baby spinach leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 small Yukon Gold potatoes (10 ounces total), peeled and diced
1 leek (white part only) finely sliced
5 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and with your hands, squeeze out all the excess water. Chop the spinach finely; set aside.

In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the potatoes and leek. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the skillet.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper. Add the spinach, potato mixture, chives, and cumin.

In the skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the egg mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the top is still slightly runny but the bottom is set.

Run a knife or rubber spatula around the edges of the tortilla and slide it onto a plate. Cover it with another plate. Hold the plates tightly and invert them. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Slide the tortilla back onto the skillet. Cook for 5 or 6 more minutes or until the bottom is set. Cut in wedges or into smaller pieces as finger food. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pierogies

Rich and sinful tasting, it combines pierogies, caramelized onions, bacon, and peas. Simple and delightful. 7 WW Points per serving.

One box of frozen pierogies
8 slices bacon
2 large onions, sliced
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
reduced fat sour cream

Place pierogies in a microwave safe casserole, cover with hot water, and cook on high for 6 minutes. Let stand in microwave, while you do the rest. Cook bacon, drain all but a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add onions, thyme, and sugar and saute until onions are caramelized. Add peas and cook for one minute. Add pierogies, tossing to combine all ingredients. Serve 3 pierogies with 1 TB of low or no fat sour cream.

Carolina Baked Beans & Pork Chops
Makes 6 servings

2 cans (16 ounces each) pork and beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup French's® Classic Yellow® Mustard
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons French's® Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Frank’s® RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
6 boneless pork chops (1 inch thick)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all ingredients except pork chops in 3-quart shallow baking dish; mix well. Arrange chops on top, turning once to coat with sauce.

Bake, uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes or until pork is no longer pink in center. Stir beans around chops once during baking. Serve with green beans or mashed potatoes, if desired.

Southern Slow Cooker Chicken and Grits
Works with Simply Filling
Like cooking short-cuts? Cut back on prep time and add a spicy, smoked flavor to this recipe by using one (14.5-ounce) can of drained, diced, roasted tomatoes with chiles in place of the fresh tomatoes.
main meals
POINTS® Value: 5
Servings: 4 Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving. (Note: This dish will be soupy so serve in bowls.)

1 3/4 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth
6 tbsp uncooked corn grits
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion(s), diced
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 cup(s) mushroom(s), sliced
1 small jalapeno pepper(s), seeded and minced (do not touch seeds with bare hands)
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), or yellow pepper, chopped
2 medium tomato(es), cored and chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound(s) boneless, skinless chicken thigh(s), cut into 1-inch chunks

Place broth in a 3- to 5-quart slow cooker. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps; set slow cooker aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, jalapeno and red pepper; sauté, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables to slow cooker. Place tomatoes, cumin, salt and black pepper in slow cooker; stir to mix. Add chicken thighs; cover and cook at medium setting for 5 to 6 hours.

Fontina, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizzas
Recipe by Cliff Crooks and Betty Fraser
For their delectably crusty and chewy pizzas, contestants Betty Fraser and Cliff Crooks adapted a bread recipe from star chef Jamie Oliver—a recipe Fraser had memorized—then covered it with slices of nutty Fontina cheese, prosciutto and sautéed onions.

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon salt
About 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds white onions
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound Italian Fontina cheese, sliced
8 thin slices of prosciutto
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 apple—peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
4 ounces arugula (6 cups)

MAKE THE DOUGH: In a large bowl, mix the yeast with the water and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, thyme and salt. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir until a very soft, wet dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, working in about 1/3 cup more flour, until the dough is soft and silky. Shape into a ball and put in a large, oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

MAKE THE TOPPINGS: Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil 2 large baking sheets. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook the onions over high heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes longer. If the onions dry out, add a few tablespoons of water. Season the onions with salt and pepper, transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out to a 9-by-3-inch rectangle and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Top the dough with the Fontina, sautéed onions and prosciutto. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

In a large bowl, whisk the grapeseed oil, truffle oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the apple and arugula and toss. Top the hot pizzas with the salad and serve immediately.

Corn Casserole
Magazine reader Kathie asked for a renovation for the corn casserole she makes at family BBQs. We upped the veggies and dropped the butter to help lighten it up.
side dishes. To remove the corn kernels from the cobs, cut off the ends of each cob. Stand the cob on its end, holding it near the top. Hold a knife parallel to the cob and cut off the kernels using a sawing motion.
We renovated Corn Casserole by:
Increasing the amount of vegetables.
Omitting the butter and relying on cooking spray to cook the bacon and vegetables.
Decreasing the total amount of fattening bacon and finely dicing it to help sprinkle it throughout the casserole.
Was POINTS® Value: 5
Now POINTS® Value: 3
Servings: 8

2 spray(s) cooking spray, divided
1 slice(s) bacon, uncooked, finely diced
2/3 cup(s) onion(s), diced
2/3 cup(s) sweet red pepper(s), diced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
14 3/4 oz canned cream-style white corn
3 medium corn on the cob, kernels removed* (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/4 cup(s) fat-free egg substitute
3/4 cup(s) low-fat Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 cup(s) seasoned croutons, whole-grain, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 2-quart shallow baking dish with nonstick spray.

Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off and discard drippings from skillet.

Add onion to skillet. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in bacon, canned corn, fresh corn, egg substitute, cheese, salt and ground pepper. Spread corn mixture in baking dish. Top evenly with croutons and lightly spray croutons with cooking spray. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden and center is set, about 15 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Serves 2

1/3 cup finely chopped mix of shallot, red onion, white onion, sweet onion, and leek (pale green and white part only)
3 Tablespoons chopped scallion
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
4 slices (each 1/2-inch thick) country bread, halved crosswise
3/4 pound aged Cheddar, coarsely grated
4 Tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Heat a large griddle over medium-low heat until hot.

In a bowl, combine the onion mixture, scallion, and garlic. Make 4 sandwiches with bread, cheese (pack it on), and onion mixture. Butter both sides of the sandwiches.

Set the sandwiches on the griddle and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, turning once, until the bread is golden and the cheese melts. Adapted from Gourmet

Leftover Roast Chicken Soup
Many people buy a whole roast chicken from the grocery store on the way home (see left). Once the chicken is picked over, the remaining carcass can be the beginning of a simple and rich soup. Add kitchen staples such as carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms, season the pot with paprika and cayenne pepper, and this versatile supper extends the life of a simple bird. The soup is made in two parts: the chicken carcass simmers in water while the vegetables saute for about half an hour. The stock on its own can be the base of other soups, or use it as the broth for risotto. The recipe calls for a single leftover chicken, but you can also use two carcasses without altering the remaining ingredients. Food dollars need to do double duty these days. Why not have your chicken and eat it too?
Serves 8

1 leftover roast chicken carcass (skin, bones, and any meat)
4 quarts water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)

In a soup pot, combine the chicken carcass and water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the mixture for 1 hour.

Place a colander or strainer over a large bowl. Tip the contents of the pot into it. Let the mixture cool. Pour the strained broth back into the soup pot.

Pick through the bones and remove any meat; discard skin and bones. Add the meat to the broth; set aside.

In a large flameproof casserole, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the butter and when it melts, add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.

Add the vegetable mixture to the broth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

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