Wednesday, July 31, 2013

#1 in Creamy Factor! Oh so VERSATILE!

I love creamy!
Creamy makes everything better, pasta sauce, pasta salad, sandwiches, dessert, EVERYTHING!



#1 Creamy Factor

I saw this on Pinterest and couldn't resist trying.
What started as a pasta salad recipe, ended up as a

The recipe is absolutely delicious and utterly simple,
I've adapted from the original recipe here.

I used:
1 Ripe Avocado
1 1/2 Tbs Lime Juice
4 Tbs Fage 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
(SIDE NOTE: Greek yogurt is the ultimate in creaminess, use it as much as possible!)
1 Clove Garlic
A Handful of Cilantro
Salt to Taste
I added serrano as garnish, it would be great pureed into the dressing.
Some ranch dressing powder would jazz it up too.

Toss everything in the food processor and blend.
It is as simple as that!

This makes enough for a pound of pasta,

1/2 a pound of pasta


A couple of chicken wraps
Wrap, chicken, radishes, and CREAMY AVOCADO LIME DRESSING


A couple servings of Quinoa, Black Bean, and Chicken Salad
(Made with chilled cooked quinoa, black beans, and shredded chicken, and a dollop of dressing.)


I think I can thin it down a bit and end up with a delicious dressing too.
And it is a great dip for veggies!

I will make this again and again and again!

(Weight Watchers - Points for the whole lot? 10PP for the WHOLE RECIPE!)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pizza Night, From Thought to Table in 20 Minutes

How do you get food on the table when you are short on time?
This was not the question I had in mind when I made pizza tonight,
but it all happened so fast that I am adding pizza to my mental
"Oh, darn, I'm hungry and I only have half an hour"
list of recipes, it is also being added to the
"There is nothing in the house but ingredients and leftovers". 
I can't be the only person with these lists. 
The first list "only have half an hour to eat" is pretty common for everyone.
I have found, though, in eating healthier, I try to be sure not to have pre-made
or pre-packaged things in the house because I binge.
So, I sometimes end up at the end of my fresh groceries
a couple days before pay-day or grocery-day.
ANYTHING can become a pizza, so this is my new go-to recipe.
This pizza has a great fold-able crust, and you can make it without turning on the oven!

The griddle has been my friend lately, it hasn't left the counter since I arrived home from CT a week and a half ago.
For the crust, I used a “pinnedrecipe from the blog “4youwithlove”.
The actual recipe is a dough and herb combination for focaccia bread,
I only used the dough portion.
This makes a roughly 12”-ish pizza, perfect for splitting or a larger sized personal pizza.

For the dough
½ Cup Warm Water
1 Tbs Sugar
1 Tbs Yeast
1 Cup Flour
(I eliminated oil and salt from the original recipe because I grilled with oil on the griddle-top and seasoned it with the pizza toppings.)
Always combine water and sugar, first, until sugar is completely dissolved, then add the yeast and allow to proof for a couple minutes. (This is how we make sure the yeast is alive, you should see the liquid get creamy, foamy, and tiny air bubbles on the surface.)
Add flour and knead until smooth and elastic.
Roll out the dough until you find the size, shape, and thickness you prefer.  I like mine about 1/8 inch thick, and in whatever shape I end up with.

Set your griddle to 300’-325’.
You could make these crusts ahead of time,
freeze them on a cookie sheet,
then drop them in a freezer bag.

Using 1 Tbs oil, oil your griddle-top or oil each side of the dough. Place your pizza crust on the griddle.  As it cooks you should see air pockets form in the crust and the bottom will start to brown.  Cook for about 5 minutes then flip and cook 2 minutes on the other side.  

Add your toppings to the pizza and allow to cook for an additional 3-5 more minutes until cheese is melted or toppings are heated through.  
I topped mine with a couple tablespoons of sauce, a few ounces of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and pepperoni, finished with a dash of red pepper flakes and green onions.  

Now, you can serve the pizza as is, or if you are okay with turning on the oven, I stuck mine under the broiler to finish melting the fresh mozz and to crispy-curl the pepperoni.

I love when pepperoni curls!

And check out that thin.
 but not crunchy crust!

To summarize:
Mix up dough - 5 minutes
Brown one side of crust -
Brown other side of crust and 
heat toppings - 5-7 minutes
(Optional) Broil to crisp up the 
top of pizza - 1-3 minutes
Grand Total: 20 MINUTES!!!

I can't wait to  try pesto, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella,
or arugula, spiced pork, and sriracha,
or chicken, alfredo sauce, and broccoli, or....

(The crust without toppings, including the tablespoon of oil for cooking is 17 PointsPlus for the entire crust, 9 PointsPlus if it is cut into 2 servings.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Protein, Carb, and Vegetable Equation

In my new quest for more healthy eating, I have adopted the equation

P + V + C = HSJ

Protein + Vegetable + Carb = Healthy Satisfied Joanne

This means I can make whole meals that incorporate all of the things I focus on , or I set them seperately on the plate.  Like most people I can only stand the same old thing so many times.
I love salad and stand alone vegetables, but I have been trying to find other recipes to use as my vegetable component on my plate.

Today's new recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.


2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/2 Tbs Honey
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 bunch of Kale, center ribs and stems removed, cut into peices
1/2 lb fresh Green Beans


Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
Add kale and toss to coat.
If you want the kale to be still crisp, let this marinate for 30-60 minutes.
If you prefer a wilted salad, let this marinate overnight.
Before serving, blanch the green beans and add them to the kale and toss.
Season to taste with salt and pepper
(original calls for a grated hard cheese, but I didn't want the extra points)


I loved this!  My non-kale-eating friend loved it!
It was fresh, perfect for the hot summer night.
It had a great tangy-sweetness, with just a pinch of kick from the red pepper flakes.
It was just what I needed to fill out my meal.

Chicken with barbeque sauce - 4 points
Marinated Kale and Green Bean Salad - 8 points
(point value of whole dressing recipe, zero points for kale and green beans)
Corn on the Cob - 2 points
Whole Meal - 14 points (if you eat the whole salad, which you may!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weight Watchers and Joanne... A Love Story

Weight Watchers and I have had an on again off again relationship over the years.

We met in high school and WW kept me happy and feeling good about myself.  We drifted apart over the years, like high school relationships do.

Then a couple years ago I started wanting a relationship again.  And I spent some time with a few different diet plans, but I never really felt that connection I was looking for.   I had some good times, but we always parted ways, I always felt unsatisfied.

I finally swallowed my pride and started talking to WW again.  I was very excited as we started a relationship again.  I started moving too fast.  I was trying to eat far below the points WW suggested.  I was grumpy, unsatisfied, and NOT COOKING!  I was focused only on fat-free, sugar-free, “non-food” food dates.  So, I started cheating.  I started to go on secret high point dates, but still show up for my low point veggie filled dates.  I started to get angry with WW for no reason; it really was entirely my fault.  But, finally, I lost it and broke it off completely with WW.

A year or so went by, and I found myself looking at pictures.  You know what that is like; you look at pictures and think of how things would be different or better, somehow, if you had stayed together.  So, after a lot of soul searching and asking myself what was important, I contacted WW online. 

WW took me back!!!
This time WW looked and acted a little differently and that worked well for us.  We spent more time together via my cell phone.  We laid down a few important ground rules.  And I can happily report that we are in a happy, committed, and productive relationship!

Now, to depart from the analogy, I wanted to share my three ground rules.

1)  I can eat whatever I want as long as I plan for it.
2)  Don’t be afraid to eat my daily points AND my weekly points.
3)  Water, vegetables, and movement are the only things I have to focus on.

These rules are what keep me sane and on track.  They translate to:

1)  This is about lifestyle, it is MY lifestyle.
2)  This is about eating more HEALTHILY, not about calorie consumption.
3)  EVERYBODY should focus on these things.

And so, there it is folks, my “relationship” with Weight Watchers.  Like any couple we argue, disagree, and have bad days.  But we always make up, and the good days outweigh the bad (no pun intended). 

All my following posts will have the recipes with Weight Watchers adjustments and PointsPlus values, which I have calculated myself.  I hope this can help someone looking for good food and good cooking!

New Beginnings, Again.

Here it is July 25th.
Do you know why today is great?
Because it is only 5 short months away from Christmas.
I love Christmas!
I love the music (I listen to Christmas music from October to January).
I love the decorations (I have 2 trees, 6 boxes of decorations, and I live in a 2 bedroom apartment).
I love the food (cranberries, chocolate, cinnamon, ham, mashed potatoes, cookies, soups, breads).
But mostly it is about family and tradition.
Last year I ended up going home to Connecticut for just three days for Christmas.
We did some traditions the same, made some new ones (like calling my sister-in-law in Australia),
and some have been left behind.
It was wonderful and as I think about Christmas this year I want to be sure to have the food traditions I love even though I won't be going home.
I know I cannot possibly make everything at once, nor do I want to.
I have to make a menu planner, that is the only way I will make the things I want.  <--- That thought made me realize that this is true about my day to day eating habits.
I love to make new and interesting things,
but I certainly don't make them as often as I would like because I don't plan for it!
So I am making a "5-months-til-Christmas" resolution.
I am recommitting to meal planning!
It is the only way I will put to use all the flagged pages in my stacks of cooking magazines.  

So, where to begin?
I asked myself the following questions:

1)  How far ahead do I want to plan/shop?
2)  Do I plan for every day?
3)  Where do I plan?
4)  What do I plan?

Then I figured out some answers.
Q1)  How far ahead do I want to plan/shop?
A1)  I am a planner.
I like to know what I am doing roughly two weeks in advance.  So, I figure if I plan my schedule two weeks in advance, I can schedule my menu two weeks in advance.  This schedule is also conducive to the every two week paycheck schedule.

Q2)  Do I plan for every day?
A2)  Yes and no.
Yes, I need to have a plan for every day.  No, that plan does not have to be a new recipe.  I can schedule days to eat out, order in, eat at a friend's house, or have leftovers, I can even schedule a day to "wing it". 

Q3)  Where do I plan?
A3)  I found this great editable PDF monthly meal planner online at  I really like it, but I hate to print off things I am only going to throw away.  I suppose I could make a binder of recipes with notes on them, but I figure I can do that fairly easily on my computer.  So I am trying out different methods, as long as they are computer friendly.

Q4)  What do I plan?
A4)  When I was home this past month I ate at a very balanced table. 
I have a father that is traditional "meat and potatoes with a side of vegetables" eater.  My mother is diabetic and likes to have lots of options on the table.  We always had a lean protein on the table, a carb, and at least 2 vegetable options.  I decided to try to follow that model; protein, carb, and vegetable.  Plus, I have a goal to plan lunches too.

A5)  I think the first step is to be kind to myself in not feeling like I am bound to the menu or a failure because I have strayed from it for a day.  I also have taken a screen shot of the menu and uploaded it to my phone to be in sight regularly.  That same picture is my desktop wallpaper.  

I am looking forward to trying this!!!!

The notes on days with no numbers are breakfast, lunch, and other cooking notes.
The letters in parentheses indicate where this recipe is coming from.
(P) - Pinterest  (BA) - Bon Appetit  (S) - Saveur