Thursday, February 17, 2011


Well, as usual things don't go as planned. I had planned a lunch for Monday even though we go to the family center for lunch that day. Tuesday went as planned, aside from the fact that the kids didn't like their tuna pasta even though I made a white sauce for them. They ate some when I put ketchup in it, but there was a lot left. So, since I hadn't cooked the chicken to make chicken salad I decided to make chicken nuggets on Wednesday for lunch. Just dipped them in egg white and then into corn flake crumbs with some italian seasonings in it. Yummy, kids loved em. Ended up making only green bean casserole for dinner that night. Here is how I did it:

Can Free Green Bean Casserole


1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz pkg mushrooms (your choice)
1 medium potato
4 tbsp dehydrated onion, or 1 small onion chopped
3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk reconstituted with half the water called for on the package or 6 oz evaporated milk
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen green beans, cooked
2 slices whole wheat bread


Cook green beans to desired texture. Lightly toast bread now (if not easily crumbleable). Remove bottoms of mushrooms and rip apart or slice mushrooms, dice potato. In a 2 quart saucepan heat up olive oil then saute mushroom pieces and potato. Add chicken broth and half of the dehydrated onions, then bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potato is mushable. Preheat oven to 350 F. Use an immersion blender or pour contents of saucepan into a blender and blend. Add reconstituted dry milk and mix together. Put green beans into a baking dish. Pour mushroom mixture over them, crumble bread over to cover and sprinkle the remaining dehydrated onions. Bake for 15 minutes or until topping is browned. Makes 6 servings. 4 PP value per serving.
Nutritional Info
  • Calories: 136.6
  • Total Fat: 3.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 145.0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 23.6 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
  • Protein: 5.3 g                    
I was inspired by a recipe that my mother sent me from Veggie Venture.  I'm sure it's not as good as her's since I left out things like butter, but.... I also got some ideas for this recipe from an ehow post on how to make Cream of Soups.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    A week of meals

    When I plan my menus I try to first utilize what I already have in my cupboards, fridge and freezer and then supplement from there. If you have a great one week menu plan I would love to have you share it with me! Here is a link to a great weekly menu planner page.

    Currently in my fridge and freezer I have half a pork roast, a whole chicken, chicken breasts, and catfish. So, I will be planning my meals around those things.

    Monday: Breakfast - Heart shaped donuts (it's valentine's day what can I say?) and baked apple slices with cinnamon and honey.

    Lunch - Chicken salad sandwiches (made from the white meat of the whole chicken) and salad

    Dinner - Salsa chicken from the dark meat parts of the whole chicken in the crock pot) served over rice.

    Tuesday : Breakfast - Cereal with bananas

    Lunch - Tuna pasta (I make it with whole wheat pasta, a can of light tuna, some frozen veggies and a fat free white sauce) This isn't the recipe for this, but it involves a white sauce.

    Dinner - Pulled pork in the crock pot served on light hamburger buns with carrots cooked in the crock pot with the pork

    Wednesday : Breakfast - French toast and oranges

    Lunch - Open faced chicken sandwiches made with the white meat left over from the whole chicken on wheat toast with gravy and low fat cheese with sweet potato

    Dinner - Teriyaki catfish with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans

    Thursday : Breakfast - Cereal and oranges

    Lunch - Soup, made with whatever I can find around. (ex. leftover chicken, potatoes, frozen broccoli, fennel)

    Dinner - Rosemary Chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots

    Friday : Breakfast - Spinach strata (just eggs, milk, spinach and seasoned to your liking baked for about 20 min, don't forget to spray the pan with cooking oil)

    Lunch - Fruit smoothies (milk and frozen fruit in the blender, you can also add frozen yogurt, regular yogurt and/or protein powder or anything else you might like)

    Dinner - Slow cooker lasagna This is the basic recipe, I replace the sausage with 96% lean beef and the ricotta with fat free cottage cheese, etc.

    Saturday: Breakfast - Bagels and scrambled eggs with salsa and refried beans

    Lunch - Burgers and fries

    Dinner - Homemade chicken tenders and salad

    Sunday: Breakfast - Cereal and fruit cocktail

    Lunch - sandwiches/leftovers

    Dinner - Ratatouille with rice

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Another great use for canned pumpkin

    I was thinking about the combination of pumpkin and chocolate and decided that I wanted to make a marble cake. I looked for recipes and found this low fat marble cake recipe on I then morphed it into what I wanted it to be:

    Pumpkin Chocolate Marble Cake


    * 2 c. whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
    * 3/4 t. baking powder
    * 1/4 t. baking soda
    * 1/2 c. applesauce
    * 1/2 c. sugar
    * 3/4 c. buttermilk or skim milk
    * 1 egg
    * 1/4 c. liquid egg whites
    * 1 t. vanilla
    * 3 T. cocoa powder
    * 1/2 c. pumpkin puree


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8X8 baking pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, combine baking soda, baking powder, and flour. In another bowl, blend sugar and applesauce. Mix in milk, egg substitute, egg and vanilla.

    2. Stir in the dry mixture. Reserve and combine 1 cup batter with cocoa. Mix pumpkin with remaining batter and pour into the pan. Top with spoonfuls of cocoa batter; swirl into pumpkin batter using a spatula.

    3. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until done. Cool on rack. Cut into 3 rows by 4 rows to make 12 pieces.

    Number of Servings: 12 - 3 PP value per serving.

    Spaghetti Squash n Cheese

    The other night for dinner I made a healthier version of mac and cheese. It didn't go over too well, but I think that the squash I used had something to do with it. It was a bit bitter. Also, I didn't melt the cheese enough, so it wasn't as spread out as it could have been. I will do better next time, but for now, here it is:

    Spaghetti Squash n Cheese


    1 spaghetti squash
    7.5 - 8 oz. low-fat cheese (shredded works best)
    2 tablespoon lower fat margarine (like Country Crock)
    2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
    2 tsp mustard or 1/4 tsp mustard powder
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 cups skim milk
    3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 small onion or 1/4 cup dehydrated onion
    1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted


          Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds and stringy parts. Place skin up on a cookie sheet, cook until you can penetrate skin with a fork. Raise heat in oven to 375 F. Melt margarine in a 2 or 3 quart saucepan then add flour, mustard, salt and pepper (if using dehydrated onion add it here). Add milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add onion, Worcestershire sauce and cheese, stir until melted. Pour over squash, crumble toast on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Makes approximately 6 1 cup servings. Is it 4 PP per serving. 
         The original recipe called for 4 1/2 tbsp of flour and 3 cups milk. I used the 3 cups milk and only 2 tbsp flour, it was liquidy. I thought it better to lower the milk rather than up the flour, but you can make that decision for yourself. Changing the above ingredients will most likely affect the PP value.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Two meals, one sauce

         Yesterday for lunch Matt made a great white sauce for pizza that we had with shredded chicken on a whole wheat crust. Then, tonight for dinner I made spaghetti with ground chicken breast and used the rest of his sauce with marinara sauce and spinach added to it. So here is the recipe I came up with to post using his creation:

    Spinach Alfredo Pasta

    Disguised as a decadent meal try this white sauce over pasta. Add some lean chicken, or other protein, to boost the protein content. Add some low fat or fat free marinara sauce to get more than four servings from the sauce and make it an even healthier meal!


      1/4 cup fat free cream cheese 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese 1/2 cup fat free sour cream 2 oz. fat free feta crumbles 1/2 cup fat free half and half 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 cups cooked pasta (8 oz. uncooked) 2 cups fresh spinach


    Cook pasta according to package directions. Put the first six ingredients into a saucepan on a medium heat, stirring frequently. When the sauce has melted and blended together lower the heat to a low setting, put the spinach in the pot and cover, after 2 minutes stir the spinach into the sauce, heat for another two or three minutes until heated through. Pour sauce over pasta and serve. Serve one cup pasta with 1/2 cup of sauce, makes 4 servings. 7 PP value as listed, adding chicken or marinara will change the PP value for example, adding 3 oz. chicken breast per serving will add 2 PP.  To view my recipe on the Spark People website click here. You can also rate it if you would like.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    New project?

        I have an idea, inspired by the Julie/Julia Project. My mother gave me a set of Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery cookbooks and I was thinking of going through them and revamping the recipes to fit a modern, healthier lifestyle. I will most definitely not try to make all the recipes in a year like Julie did (especially since there are twelve books), nor will I promise to make every recipe. For example, the very first recipe in the cookbook is for abalone chowder, not interested at all. This series of cookbooks goes over a ton of different kinds of foods in alphabetical order. So, after abalone is acorn squash. I would definitely be doing those recipes! I wrote an email to the publishing company that owns the copyright to the cookbooks, so once I hear back from them I will get started. I am excited, there is a lot of great information in these books, for example, in the acorn squash section there is a "purchasing guide" that tells you how to pick out the best one as well as information on storage, nutritive values, basic prep, and how to freeze. Wow.
        So, question for all my few readers: Do I start a new blog for this in order to properly name it and keep it separate from my everyday one, or do I just include it in this one?

    Okay, I went and entered the ingredients into the recipe calculator on Spark People for a recipe straight from the book and an alternate version and here they are:

    Nutrition Facts                                                                  Nutrition Facts

      4 Servings                                                                          4 Servings

    Amount Per Serving                                                        Amount Per Serving
    Calories         376.6                                                          Calories     65.9
    Total Fat         25.1 g                                                        Total Fat     0.5 g
              Saturated Fat         15.5 g                                                  Saturated Fat     0.3 g
              Polyunsaturated Fat     1.0 g                                             Polyunsaturated Fat     0.1 g
              Monounsaturated Fat     7.2 g                                           Monounsaturated Fat     0.1 g
    Cholesterol         89.3 mg                                                 Cholesterol     1.5 mg
    Sodium         29.8 mg                                                       Sodium     106.8 mg
    Potassium         499.8 mg                                                 Potassium     436.2 mg
    Total Carbohydrate     39.3 g                                           Total Carbohydrate     16.0 g
              Dietary Fiber         1.6 g                                                   Dietary Fiber     1.6 g
              Sugars             23.5 g                                                       Sugars     1.5 g
    Protein         2.1 g                                                             Protein     1.6 g

    PP value - 11                                                                    PP value - 2

    Gave in to a craving

    Well, here it is almost one in the morning because I gave in to a craving and had to make soft pretzels. Shortly after getting home from work I got a craving and looked around for a good recipe. I found one on the food network site here. If you make 8, as the recipe suggests they are 8 PP apiece, by changing it to whole wheat flour it brings it down to 7, or if you make the pretzels smaller and make 16 instead they are 4 PP apiece, either way. Definitely not an every day treat, but they are very good. I think that I will use a similar recipe to make mini bagels. The kids would absolutely love that. I think next time I will try substituting some of the whole wheat flour (maybe 1/4 of it) for ground oats. Interesting, that doesn't change the PP value at all. If divided into 30, the amount I thought would be good for mini bagels they are 2 PP each. Definitely worth it and fun to make! Hmmm.... I want to try making spinach bagels, and blueberry bagels, and....

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    An apology

    I just wanted to say that I know I haven't been true to the mission I set for myself when starting this blog, and for that I apologize. Once I find my camera, hopefully I can put up more pictures of both the recipes that I have become obsessed with  and the crafts I have been doing, as well as more recent pics of my kids. Also, if anyone has any ideas to further my original intent of helping to save the environment let me know. For now, I guess it's just that I am trying to make more food from scratch, therefore spending less on food and using less packaging.


    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    White Bean Bread

    Yummy. I looked around to try and find a recipe for bread with beans in it. I can't remember what inspired me to do that, maybe I thought it would be less PP. I was wrong about that, but it is so worth it. I found this recipe for bread with pinto beans in it and altered it a bit. Here is what I came up with:

    White Bean Bread

    Looking for a homemade bread that is naturally high in fiber and protein? Well, this is it! Perfect as a side for soup or used to make healthier croutons.

      1 15.5 oz. can of Cannellini Beans 1 cup skim milk 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground ginger 2 tbsp sugar 2 tbsp melted margarine 2 cups all purpose flour 1/3 cup wheat germ 1/3 cup oat bran or wheat bran 1/3 cup flax meal 1 tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten 2 tsp bakers yeast


    Drain and rinse beans. Blend beans and milk together. Add all ingredients into your bread maker in the order recommended by your manufacturer. Set on white bread 1 1/2 lb. loaf. Wait for it to be done and enjoy. Makes 16 servings, 3 PP per slice. 
    It didn't rise too well, but it sure is tasty!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Soup... so comforting in the cold.

         Comfort food, mostly we think of things that aren't good for us when we think of comfort food. Soup, if made properly can be one of the healthiest foods and oh so comfortingly warm when it is cold outside. I found this soup on

    Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

    3 cups broccoli, chopped
    3 cups cauliflower, chopped
    4 cups turkey broth
    1/2 or whole onion
    1 sm. potato, diced
    4 oz. cheddar
    1/2 c. milk
    1 garlic clove, minced
    pepper to taste
    1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

    Saute onions until golden. Add broth, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and potato and bring to a boil in a 4 quart saucepan. Reduce heat, cook covered, 15 minutes. Remove about 1 cup broccoli and cauliflower pieces, set aside. Cook soup 10 minutes longer. Add shredded cheese and heat until melted Pour into blender and puree until very smooth. Return pureed soup to pan with reserved vegetables and heat through, but do not boil or cheese will curdle. Add milk, salt and pepper.

       I switched it around a bit for my lunch today to use things I have in the house. I used 1 cup skim milk instead of 1/2 cup and cheese. I used a bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots as well as some frozen spinach (added in the last few minutes). I used dehydrated onion (boiled for a few minutes in water before adding anything else) and chicken broth. It came out great and by leaving out the cheddar it made it fit into the Simply Filling WW technique, and it tasted great! I didn't put this into the recipe builder, but since the milk and potato are the only thing with any quantifiable amount of points I would have to say it would be one or two PP per serving.

    Dinner for 2/1/11

       I have been continuing to go through the many recipes I have found in various places online. I tried the recipe below last night. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that it said soup and I thought it was a noodle dish with a sauce, so I tried to reduce the sauce and it wasn't very strong in flavor. I replaced the rice wine with rice vinegar, left out the red pepper, mushrooms and green onions, used whole wheat linguini instead of udon noodles and used canned carrots and frozen spinach. Perhaps these substitutions had something to do with the lack of flavor as well. We ended up adding more soy sauce on it to make it taste better. If you want to try this recipe I would suggest using onion and more garlic to increase the amount of flavor. The kids would only eat the noodles, but they did like those.

    Udon Noodle and Beef Soup
    4 servings
    8 PP values per serving


        * 8 ounces uncooked udon noodles (thick, round fresh Japanese wheat noodles) or spaghetti
        * 1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
        * 1/2  teaspoon crushed red pepper
        * 2  (14 1/4-ounce) cans low-salt beef broth
        * 3  tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
        * 3  tablespoons sake (rice wine) or dry sherry
        * 1  tablespoon honey
        * Cooking spray
        * 2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 4 ounces)
        * 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
        * 8 ounces top round, thinly sliced
        * 3/4 cup diagonally cut green onions
        * 1 (6-ounce) bag prewashed baby spinach


    Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

    Place garlic, pepper, and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

    Combine soy sauce, sake, and honey in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

    Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and carrot; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add vegetable mixture to broth mixture. Stir in beef; cook 2 minutes or until beef loses its pink color. Stir in noodles, green onions, and spinach. Serve immediately.