Saturday, April 30, 2011

Creamy Pistachio and Mango Chutney Pork Tenderloin

The first round of finalists have been chosen in the Real Women of Philadelphia contest and, I have to say, I was impressed.

The two recipes chosen in the appetizer round gave me an indication of how steep a challenge this is going to be - causing me to re-think my "Go Big or Go Home" attitude and just have fun with no expectations.

This is a current life lesson.

I am learning how to let an experience provide my reward without attaching it's validity to outcome.

This isn't to say I'm not going to try my best - if anything, I'm going to treat this as an opportunity to learn more about food, cooking, and the development of recipes so that in the end, no matter what happens, I will come away with more than I started with (and less weight).

I'm still on my quest for better health but this week has been a bit of a bust because I'm away at a conference and felt the need to indulge in a gigantor New York strip last night from a favourite steak house. I also have breakfast coming to my room but was much more sensible about my order: an omelet with smoked salmon, capers, tomato, and green onion (no cheese) and multigrain toast.

I wish I had a camera because it looks so good.

Hotels should take note: This is the reason I come back again and again and always pay that little extra for room service in the morning - the food is extraordinary.

After I finish, it's shower, back to the conference, and then on the road by noon.

If all goes according to plan, I'll be home by 2:00 pm with time to go for a nice long run with the dog.

Which means I have reached another milestone on my weight loss journey because I can say once again say, "I am a runner."

Contest or not, I've got to go with Charlie Sheen because, that, my friends, is WINNING!

Here is the first of the recipes and videos I am submitting in this week's entree round.

*Update* This turned out to be the winning $20,000.00 recipe in The Real Women of Philadelphia!

Creamy Pistachio and Mango Chutney Pork Tenderloin
For printable recipe, click HERE 

Ingredients
  •  1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil  
  • 1/2 cup(s) of diced onion
  • 3/4 cup(s) of cooked couscous
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup(s) of chopped pistachios plus 2 Tbsp for garnish
  • 2 tbsp. of chopped dried cranberries that have been softened in boiling water for 5 minutes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup(s) of mango chutney
  • 1/4 cup(s) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room tempertature
  • 1 butterflied pork tenderloin
  • 1/8 cup(s) of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic to taste
  • 2/3 cup(s) of low sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. of mango chutney
  • 1/4 cup(s) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch diluted and made into a creamy paste with 2 additional Tbsp beef broth (optional for a thicker sauce)
Directions
  1. Saute onions and celery for one minute over medium high heat just until soft. Add garlic and continue to saute 20 seconds until fragrant. Remove from heat.
  2. Mix together couscous, onion, celery, garlic, pistachios, cranberries, chutney and cream cheese until well incorporated.
  3. Brush tenderloin with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (about 1/4 tsp each. Spread tenderloin with stuffing. Fold over and tie with butcher string. Extra stuffing can be eaten on it's own (very good) or used to stuff other meats like chicken breasts,
  4. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan turned to medium high. When pan is hot, sear the tenderloin on all four sides and then roast 25-35 minutes in a 425 oven.
  5. While the tenderloin is roasting, bring beef broth to a boil. Add the chutney and Philadelphia Cream Cheese and whisk until cheese is well incorporated. Turn to low stirring occasionally until the roast is ready to serve. If you like a thicker sauce, whisk in the cornstarch mixture and boil until thickened.
  6. When roast reaches an internal temperature of 160, remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Slice tenderloin into 1 inch pieces, arrange on a plate and drizzle liberally with the cream sauce. Garnish with 2 Tbsp chopped pistachios and fresh parsley.




***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Crunchy Chicken Wraps

Hey everyone, forget the fast food!

These little chicken wraps from my latest Weight Watchers magazine are so easy, so healthy, and so delicious, you'll never want to hit the drive through again!

Crunchy Chicken Wraps
For printable recipe click HERE



















Here's what you do:

Preheat your oven to 425 and spray a large cookie sheet with non stick spray or cover with parchment paper. Whisk 2 large egg whites in a pie plate. Mix 1 cup of cornflake crumbs and 1/4 cup toasted almonds on a sheet of wax paper. Dip 8 chicken tenders, 1 piece at a time, into the egg whites, then into crumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Place chicken in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through (about 30 minutes)

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, mix 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise, 2 tbsp cilantro, and the juice of 1/2 a lime in a small bowl.

Place 2 chicken pieces in each of 4 whole wheat tortillas. Top evenly with lettuce or baby spinach. Spoon 1 Tbsp sauce onto each wrap and fold like a burrito.

per serving: (1 wrap) 311 cal, 9 g total fat




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Sunday, April 24, 2011

How I Lost my First Twenty Pounds

Eight weeks, two cooking contests, and twenty pounds ago, I decided to, once and for all, lose the baby weight I've been carrying since the birth of my son *ahem* nineteen years ago.

Given that the elastic insert in my maternity jeans had been stretched beyond recognition after 19 years of faithful service, and my baby was now a grown man and living on his own in Vancouver, it occurred to me it was probably time.

So here I am. Twenty pounds lighter and a hundred times happier. Able to watch myself in videos without cringing, touch my toes, and slide into a pair of jeans I've been saving for years but had no real faith I would ever be wearing again.

Better still, I can run.

You know, when I was in my 20's I had this strange notion that I had to be a "success" before I hit 30. It was this weird benchmark age that, for whatever reason, I believed harkened the beginning of the end - like if you didn't do it by 30, you never would.

But then I had my birthday and the world kept turning.

However, it occurred to me recently that I had been living a similar mind set.

I was heading into middle age, overweight and out of breath, believing there was nothing I could do about it.

Though I was once an athlete and a runner, I thought those days were far behind me, with no hope that I would ever run again.

In short, I had talked myself into believing this vision of myself as a happy go lucky, butter loving, Mrs. Clause like entity - and what a surprise it's been to learn I have always had the ability to escape the cookie factory!

I have the power to become whatever version of myself I choose to be.

Yesterday I ran for 45 minutes.

Today I will run again.

The journey isn't over - it has, rather, only just begun.

That said, I thought I would share some insights and ideas that have made these last eight weeks not only bearable but enjoyable - tips that, I believe, have encouraged my weight loss so far...

1. Track your food. I am using the Weight Watchers points plus plan and can't say enough about it as being sensible and easy to follow. I keep track of everything I eat and drink on a daily basis and find this has been a great way to keep things in balance.

2. Exercise everyday. It doesn't have to be an all out cardio fest 7 days a week but plan to do something active every single day.

3. Eat less. I know, no kidding. But what I mean is be aware of portion size. That was one of the key reasons I put on so much weight - I was eating portions that were too big. I have also learned to subscribe to the 20 minute rule. 20 minutes after eating a smaller portion I am always full. You don't always feel "full" in the moment - I eat now to feel satisfied. Full comes later.

4. Take the time to prepare your own food, including snacks, to take to work and make sure absolutely everything you eat is fresh and delicious. The key to success is in not feeling deprived in any way and the better prepared your food is, the easier it will be to stay on track.

5. Eat your evening meal a little later. If you have a healthy snack around 3:00 pm and can hold off until 7:00 pm for dinner - a meal later in the evening will keep you from wanting to snack later.

6. Go to bed by 10 pm. This keeps the late night munchies at bay because you will be sleeping right through them. You will also feel more rested and energetic in the morning!

7. Try taking apple cider vinegar - I use pure cider purchased from the health food store with something called "Mother" in it - not only has cider vinegar been scientifically proven to lower glycemic levels, it is good for lowering blood pressure.

8. Pick one day of the week to give yourself license. This doesn't mean going crazy. But if you have one day a week that is a little more lax (mine is Saturday) it gives you a psychological boost - remember, nothing will work for the long haul if you feel deprived - it also works to re-charge your metabolism each week.

Because the Weight Watchers program has you tracking your exercise, I use some of those points on my "lax" day - and to be honest, I've actually never used up all my points during a week.

Yesterday I enjoyed a steak, some dark chocolate, and a peanut butter cookie. Today I'm back on the straight and narrow :-)

9. Study light cooking techniques and try new recipes. I find Cooking Light magazine, Weight Watchers magazine, and other similar publications to be excellent sources of inspiration and information.

Remember, Philadelphia Cream Cheese products are also an excellent way to add flavour and creaminess to recipes without all the fat and calories!

10. Finally, enter a contest where you have to post live videos of yourself and announce that you are doing this to lose weight ;) The scrutiny of the masses has an amazing way of keeping a dieter on track!!

And that's the blog!

To everyone who has been emailing - it means so much to know others are being inspired by my journey and I can't wait to write about my next twenty pounds!!!

Be well everyone...

Eggs Benedict

Happy Easter everyone!

I thought I would re-post this in honour of the day...

***

Morning.


Hopeful and filled with untouched possibility.

I am excited to begin again; grateful that life affords me opportunity to change, and learn, and grow with each new day.

































I shut the door on yesterday and look toward the sunlight.

What will I experience?

Who will I meet?

What will I learn?

Who will I forgive?

What love is in store...






















Today is a new chance.

To embrace all that I am in a spirit of wholeness and acceptance, knowing that I am just who I should be and trusting that life will take me exactly where it is going.

Living in the fullness.

And noticing everything.

Fresh linen and springtime landscapes.

The comfort of coffee.

The kindness in a stranger's smile.

A seagull on the wind.

A prayer filled with hope.

Joy is accessible every moment we are blessed to be breathing.

And on this Springtime Easter Sunday my hope is that you will take the time to create moments of beauty for yourselves that will add a sense of refuge and solace to your own busy lives.

For myself, I can't think of anything I enjoy more than what I call "country weekends."

These are the weekends I make a conscious effort to stay home, slow down, and enjoy some of life's little pleasures.

Like brunch. At my own table in front of the fireplace, sipping a cool glass of Asti Spumante and enjoying the luscious decadence of eggs benedict.

































In keeping with my philosophy that an elegant life need not require a hefty bank account, I took an outdoor table from my garden and covered it with a lovely white tablecloth to create an atmosphere as inviting as it was comforting.

Feelings of peace and ambience can be created in our homes with beautiful food, warm decor, soft lighting, and carefully chosen music.

Within each of us is the creativity to make everyday moments extraordinary.

We just have to make the time to do so - and to embrace the importance of nurturing the soul.



Somebody told me the other day "Small is the new Big."

I love that.

I believe that true joy comes from learning to notice and appreciate the little things.

A well set table.

The smell of good bacon.

Chopin.

The comfort of companionship.

***

I'm going to leave you this morning with my recipe for eggs benedict because learning how to make a hollandaise sauce from scratch and perfectly poaching an egg are simple kitchen basics that often elude home cooks.
But why wait to have gloppy hollandaise sauce that most likely came from a package when you can make this light, citrusy, concoction yourself?

































"Out at the sea the dawn wind wrinkles and slides. I am here, or there, or elsewhere in my beginning"
~TS Eliot

Eggs Benedict
For printable recipe click HERE



Hollandaise Sauce Ingredients

* 4 egg yolks
* 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
* Pinch cayenne
* Pinch salt

Directions
  1. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume.
  2. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume.
  4. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.
Eggs Benedict
Ingredients
* 8 slices Canadian bacon
* 4 English muffins, split
* 2 teaspoons white vinegar
* 8 eggs
* Salt and pepper, to taste
* Hollandaise sauce, recipe above
* Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions
  1. Prepare hollandaise sauce and keep warm.
  2. Brown the bacon in a medium skillet, butter and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler. Cover with foil and keep warm in the oven
  3. Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil.
  4. Gently place the whole eggs in their shells into the poaching liquid for 10 seconds. This is a trick I got from Gordon Ramsey and will keep the eggs from spreading and feathering. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and then gently crack each egg into a small ramekin. Gently slide each egg from the ramekin into the water taking care not to break it. Repeat with remaining eggs.
  5. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 - 5 minutes (I like a five minute egg) until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain on a paper towel. To assemble: Lay a slice of Canadian bacon on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oven Roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken

The first time I ever had jerk chicken was during a trip to Seattle where I visited the home of a good friend and equally good cook.

She grilled it with the skin on and served it with fluffy mashed potatoes.

















I loved everything about the dish - from the intoxicating blend of spices, to the moist tenderness of the meat and every now and then I get a craving for those warm, sweet flavours - which is exactly what happened Thursday evening.

It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and as I drove home from work anticipating the wonder of a four day weekend, my mind travelled to thoughts of dinner.

As is often the case, I stopped at my local grocery store on the way home looking for inspiration and decided on chicken - coming the conclusion some kind of jerk seasoning would be just what the doctor ordered.

And it was!

I marinated four boneless skinless chicken breasts for two hours in the following blend:
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 small jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Splash spiced rum
Put all ingredients into food processor. Mix on high for 15 pulses.

Wrap the chicken breasts, marinade and all, in tinfoil and bake at 350 for one hour.

It would also be amazing on the grill.

The result was so flavourful and delicious that I just had to share!

















Have a great weekend everyone!

Philadelphia Hodge Podge

I don't want to speak too soon, but I do believe it's possible spring has finally sprung!

This because, for the first time in ages the sun is out and the air smells fresh.

I noticed it last night while I was out for a run - birds were chirping, Easter is around the corner, and it feels like an end to the long months of winter hibernation.

I'll tell you, I certainly took the whole hibernation thing to heart this year - and though cooking with a Julia Childlike reverence for butter was not the best for my waist line, sometimes you just want comfort food - especially when the days grow cold and the nights get longer.

But in spring, I automatically begin to think about renewal.

That's why I'm so excited to share my side dish recipe from The Real Women of Philadelphia contest. for Philadelphia Hodge Podge because its a blend of comfort and renewal.

















New vegetables that have been tender cooked in a lemony broth are enveloped in a decadently flavourful herbed cream sauce.

At 125 calories per one cup serving and 2 grams of fat, this deliciously decadent side dish is a wonderfully guilt free indulgence that would also make a wonderful side dish for Easter dinner.

For printable recipe click here

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, well rinsed and quartered lengthwise using the only the white and light green parts.
  • 8 small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
  • 6 new carrots, peeled, and cut lengthwise on the diagnol into matchstick size pieces
  • 2 cup(s) of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • zest from one whole lemon
  • 6 small Brussels sprouts cut in half
  • 2 handfuls green beans, tips removed, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup(s) of Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup(s) of chopped fresh baby dill
  • 1/4 cup(s) of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Directions
  1. Saute garlic on medium low heat for one minute in a large, deep, nonstick skillet.
  2. Add the onions, leek, kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper and continue to saute for five minutes just until the onions become soft.
  3. Add the potatoes and carrots. Mix well with the leeks and onions and then cover with the 2 cups of low sodium broth and lemon zest. Stir well and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and then continue to simmer for five minutes.
  4. Add the beans and Brussels sprouts and continue to simmer for 7-10 minutes with a lid on - just until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Drain the vegetables into a large bowl reserving the broth.
  6. Return the broth to your pan and turn to medium high. Boil for about 3 minutes to reduce.
  7. Turn the heat to medium, add the Philadelphia Cream Cheese and continue to stir as it melts into the sauce. The sauce will continue to reduce and thicken as the cream cheese incorporates into the sauce.
  8. Pour cream sauce over the vegetables, add the fresh herbs and the rest of the pepper and stir. Serve sprinkled with additional parsley family style in a large bowl.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Husband's Manly Obsession

As long time readers can attest, the Man I Married has become quite the consumer watchdog.

Whether it be battling other shoppers at our local discount bread outlet for loaves of expired rye or pumpernickel, clipping coupons, or buying his seasonal attire from the $5.00 and under rack at Walmart, ever since he blew out the candles on his fortieth birthday cake, purchasing goods at discount prices has become his manly obsession.

Forget credit cards, or anything else that might accrue interest, my husband, who was once as free with his money as Kanye West with an opinion, changed as middle age approached.

Suddenly everything in our world came with a price tag and blanket statements like "Can you belive the price on this!" or "Robbery!" in the middle of the chip and dip aisle at our local grocery store became the norm rather than the exception.

To combat raging prices, he's also taken to buying edible goods that come labelled with neon orange discount stickers - with the stickers indicating that not only has the product's price been slashed by at least fifty percent, it has either reached or expired its "Best Before" date - which isn't necessarily what you want with products like yogurt or cream cheese.

"It's fine!" he exclaims as he digs into a container of expired Yoptimal.

If you thought the probiotic cultures were powerful with the original, you have to try the post dated version... forget the Yoptimal two week challenge, the two hour challenge is about all you need around our house.

Of course, I won't touch anything with an orange label, the discount bread, or the variety of unusual snack items he purchases for himself at Liquidation World, or Dollarama - a store he's only recently discover, God help us, where he likes to go and get his shop on Saturday mornings before he hits Shoppers Drug Mart to search the 70% off bin.

But just as I got assimilated to orange labelled dairy items and learned to avoid them, my husband discovered another facet of his money saving self: clipping coupons and filling out consumer surveys on household items.

I don't remember how it all began except to say it was around the same time he started getting a publication entitled "Consumer Reports" in the mail.

Which has made him quite the expert if you're looking for the best prices on laundry soap or floor wax, but verging on the annoying when his shipments of coupons, free samples, and surveys come in.

It's gotten so the man can't wait to get the mail.

He finishes up his dinner most nights and then its off to the mailbox to see what's come in.

And when he gets a package - look out.

Sitting in the living room with his scissors, calculator (for answering skill testing questions) and other paraphernalia layed out on the coffee table before him, he begins.

Of course, it's never a solitary pursuit.

Why?

Because most of the coupons and product recommendations that come in are geared toward the ladies.

Which means that on the night the package arrives, I'd better be prepared to answer a lot of questions.

Questions like: "What brand of hair dye do you use?"

"Did you like that Midol PM?"

And, "Do you ever use imitation egg products?"

Marital bliss.

It's about turning a blind eye when he arrives home with a big bag full of expired Dad's Goodie Rings, or General Foods International Coffee in much the same way I require he play dumb when I'm prancing around the house in white spandex vying to be the next food network star.

That and the fact that I apparently get demanding when he's holding up my cue cards...

"Lower! You have to hold it LOWER!"

And that's the blog!

Because it's still chilly out, what about a bowl of my delicious Hamburger Soup for dinner tonight?





















Stay tuned tomorrow for ideas around keeping Easter healthy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Philly Nibbler and Philadelphia Holy Rollers Recipes and Other Updates

Hi everyone and welcome to Tuesday!

In the six weeks since I began my journey as The Determined Dieter I have lost 18 pounds - and have to admit the weight began to really come off steadily when I added apple cider vinegar to my daily repertoire.

The jogging, however, also doesn't hurt and I'm shocked by how well I'm doing. The trick seems to be to walk and jog. Slowly increase your jogging time and decrease your walking time with a long term goal being ten minutes of jogging, 1 minute of walking. I have a friend who runs marathons this way.

And then there's the Philadelphia Cream Cheese - an ingredient showing up in most of my dishes right now because of The Real Women of Philadelphia contest - a contest where I've just found out I am free to post my submitted recipes here on my blog!

So with this being a bit of an update today, I'm going to share my first two submitted recipes for the contest - but before I do so, I have a great recipe for a quick and easy fish dish that I got from a heart association cookbook years ago and use all the time:

Take a baking sheet and cover with tinfoil. Onto the tinfoil drizzle one Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, one Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 Tbsp tarragon. Mix it all together and then lay four pieces of white fish over all making sure to cover both sides in the oil and vinegar. Bake in a 375 oven for 15-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish and how done you like it.

Really delicious!

Okay, onto the Philly Recipes

Philly Nibblers
44 calories per serving, 2 grams fat
For printable recipe click here
Mini Muffins
  • Vegetable oil spray for muffin tin
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup light Herb and Garlic Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Salsa Verde
  • 1 Tbsp finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
Directions
  1. Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Combine buttermilk, egg, avocado, cream cheese, salsa, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until combined.
Filling
  • 3 diced green onions
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
  • 1/8 cup finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cans cocktail shrimp drained, rinsed, and dried
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup light Herb and Garlic Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Whip together the cream cheese, salt, pepper, and cumin
  2. Add the shrimp, and diced vegetables.
  3. Add fresh chopped cilantro.
  4. Set aside.
Directions

To assemble the dish
  1. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each cup with a half rounded teaspoon per cup of the muffin mix
  2. Using your fingers, flatten the mixture along the bottom and work it up and around the sides of the cup. The idea is to make your cornbread batter into a little bowl your filling will go in. (Don't worry if it seems thin - resist the urge to add more batter, it will inflate as it bakes and you don't want a crust that is too thick.)
  3. Fill each cup with the filling (about the size of a melon baller) and top with another rounded 1/2 tsp batter.
  4. Smooth batter over the top of the filling with a butter knife so that it forms a muffin cap.
  5. Bake in a 375 oven about 17 minutes; until a toothpick inserted into the dough comes out clean.
  6. Serve warm from the oven.
  7. Makes app 32 mini muffins
Philadelphia Holy Rollers
67 calories per roller, 2 g fat
For printable recipe click here

















Ingredients
  • 1 can chunk crab meat
  • 2 diced green onions
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup drained and dried mandarin slices
  • 1 cup roughly chopped baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped vermicelli noodles that have been cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup Philly light cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 pkg of rice paper wrappers
  • Large bowl filled with hot water.
Directions
  1. Cook vermicelli noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about one minute) Drain and cool under running water. Roughly chop and then set aside in a small bowl.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the crab, green onions, celery, mandarin oranges, cashews, and spinach. Add the cooled rice vermicelli noodles and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir the Philadelphia cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sweet chili sauce until smooth and well blended and then add the crab and vegetable mixture and stir until all of the ingredients are well blended and completely incorporated.
  4. Take a rice paper wrapper and immerse in hot water for 10-15 seconds - just until the wrapper becomes soft and pliable. Place it on a clean flat surface and then place 1/4-1/2 cup of the salad mixture in the middle of the wrapper. Fold it over once just to cover the salad mixture and then fold the sides in - much the same way as a burrito would be folded. Once the sides are tucked in continue to roll to make a cigar shape.
  5. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Can be kept in refrigerator for up to one day.
  6. When ready to serve cut each roller into even thirds and plate. Can be served with a little extra sweet chili sauce on the side to dip.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Crunchy Italian Chicken with Tomato and Red Pepper "Gravy"

Was anyone else addicted to the food Carmella cooked for Tony during the heyday of The Sopranos?

Ziti, braciole, eggplant parm, and an endless variety of pasta dishes were featured in the kitchen or at the family table - usually accompanied by Sunday gravy.

For the longest time I never understood why anyone would want to dump gravy all over pasta dishes - not knowing gravy is another word for tomato sauce.

But when I discovered the truth, I began calling red sauce Sunday gravy - because I'm unusual that way.

And quirky ;)

So, with last night being, Sunday, I decided to put together a dish that would feature a Sunday kind of sauce - and this is what I came up with.















It was flavourful, light, and filled with nutrients. Best of all, the simple sauce is also really good on a side of pasta. Sprinkle a little parm and you've got a Sunday dinner Carmella would surely approve of!

I hope you enjoy...

Crunchy Italian Chicken with Tomato and Red Pepper Gravy
For printable recipe click here

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs seasoned with 1/2 tsp dried parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, pepper, and 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
For the Sauce
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 2 diced ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 diced red pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Directions
  1. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and chicken stock together until it makes an emulsified marinade
  2. Marinate the chicken 30-60 minutes or longer.
  3. Mix the panko breadcrumbs with the dried herbs and asiago cheese and put in a shallow dish or pie plate
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and coat well with panko.
  5. Transfer to a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  6. Bake in a 350 oven for 45-60 minutes
For the Sauce
  1. Saute the onions in olive oil until just beginning to turn translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes and red pepper and continue to saute over medium heat until red pepper is soft.
  3. Add chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, and garlic and continue to saute for another minute or two to let the stock and vinegar reduce a bit.
  4. Cool slightly and puree in a blender.
Happy Monday all!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Second Video in the Real Women of Philadelphia - An Easy Appetizer with Crab!

Hi everyone,

How's every little thing going?

I have to tell you, life in my neck of the woods couldn't be better because this Determined Dieter is now running 40 minutes a day!

When I look back and realize it's only been six weeks since I began this journey and can see the progress I've made, it makes me very excited!

I'm also excited about the latest video I've submitted in the Real Women of Philadelphia contest because today's recipe is a WINNER!

Philadelphia Holy Rollers
67 calories per roller, 2 g fat
For printable recipe click here

















Ingredients
  • 1 can chunk crab meat
  • 2 diced green onions
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup drained and dried mandarin slices
  • 1 cup roughly chopped baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped vermicelli noodles that have been cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup Philly light cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 pkg of rice paper wrappers
  • Large bowl filled with hot water.
Directions
  1. Cook vermicelli noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about one minute) Drain and cool under running water. Roughly chop and then set aside in a small bowl.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the crab, green onions, celery, mandarin oranges, cashews, and spinach. Add the cooled rice vermicelli noodles and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir the Philadelphia cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sweet chili sauce until smooth and well blended and then add the crab and vegetable mixture and stir until all of the ingredients are well blended and completely incorporated.
  4. Take a rice paper wrapper and immerse in hot water for 10-15 seconds - just until the wrapper becomes soft and pliable. Place it on a clean flat surface and then place 1/4-1/2 cup of the salad mixture in the middle of the wrapper. Fold it over once just to cover the salad mixture and then fold the sides in - much the same way as a burrito would be folded. Once the sides are tucked in continue to roll to make a cigar shape.
  5. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Can be kept in refrigerator for up to one day.
  6. When ready to serve cut each roller into even thirds and plate. Can be served with a little extra sweet chili sauce on the side to dip.
If you would like the many others I plan to post - it's as easy as joining the website and community and coming to visit my profile - while you're there, send me a friend request so we can get cooking!

So, without further ado, I am pleased to present - my video!



Friday, April 15, 2011

Easy Baked Salmon with Apple Sauce

Yesterday afternoon I called The Man I Married and asked him what he wanted to have for dinner - already wagering a bet that he would choose one of two options: chicken or salmon.

Most men love hearty meat and potatoes dinners - but mine could literally exist on seafood.

Making it easier to be the Determined Dieter, for sure, but definitely making it a challenge in the food blogging realm to consistently come up with new recipes.

To top it off, I was exhausted last night and wanted to make something quick!

So I got to thinking, and puzzling, and pondering, and lo and behold, came up with a super easy and really delicious dish!

Who said cooking couldn't be fun?

If you're looking for a quick and healthy way to get more salmon in your diet, this is a good one.

Let me know what you think if you try it!

Easy Baked Salmon with Apple Sauce
For printable recipe click here

















Ingredients

  • Four salmon fillets
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp low fat Hellman's mayonaisse
  • Old Bay seasoning or salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Lay the salmon fillets on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with about a tsp of old bay seasoning or salt and pepper
  2. Mix apple sauce, curry powder, and mayo in a small bowl and then spread evenly over the salmon.
  3. Fold tinfoil over to make a pouch and bake in a 400 oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Spoon left over sauce in the pouch over salmon to serve



    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    What Not to Do When Entering a Cooking Contest - The Real Women of Philadelphia

    Throughout my life, part of my charm has involved an uncanny ability to do things in a big way.

    Whether that be sending my son to his first science fair with a 6x9 professional display board from work, or attempting to be a parent runner for his grade seven track team, I have always been All In when it comes to life.

    And certainly, that has been no different as I've embarked on my latest adventure with The Real Women of Philadelphia contest.

    A contest in which I have learned there are are certain faux pas it is adviseable to avoid while trying to make a good first impression - and I worked hard to do so.

    Not only was I going to do a video featuring my original recipe for The Philly Nibbler, I was going to make certain to name the sponsors: KRAFT Foods Canada, the wonderful site administrator for the contest "Miss Philly," and - of course - the celebrity host Anna Olson.










    Anna Olson is one of my favourite Food Network Canada hosts. She is engaging, knowledgeable, and her recipes are consistently good.

    Which is why it was probably not best practice to ebulliently and effusively refer to her as "Candace" in the opening of my inaugural video, or to continue the trend by referring to her as Candace on the Real Women of Philadelphia posting boards.

    People who know me - and in particular, my colleagues at work - are shaking their heads, as this is certainly not an isolated incident.

    I once went through an entire six week training referring to one of the participants as "Beverly" when her name was Patty.

    ***

    The only thing I can do now is look on the bright side.

    At the very least, perhaps it made me more memorable.

    As for Anna, I have let her know she is free to call me Donna for the duration of the contest.

    And that's the blog!

    Have a beautiful Thursday everyone...

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Quick, Easy, FABULOUS, Shrimp Tacos!!!!

    I am always on the look out for quick, easy, delicious recipes that I can make in 20 minutes or  less - and today's quick and easy rendition of shrimp tacos is sure to please any palette!

    Easy Fabulous Shrimp Tacos
    For printable recipe click HERE














    Ingredients
    • One can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • One cup salsa
    • One can drained niblets corn, or one cup frozen
    • 2-3 cups cooked frozen prawns, thawed and chopped into bite size pieces
    • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes (optional - I had them kicking around so I threw them in)
    • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
    Directions
    1. Heat the beans, salsa, corn, and prawns in a non stick pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
    2. Stir in cilantro if using and sprinkle with feta cheese.
    3. Serve in hard or soft taco shells
    Happy Wednesday everyone!!

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Kitchen Witch Tip of the Week: Making Fresh Flowers Last Longer

    One of the things I love to do when I'm not blogging, cooking, or shooting video's is to gather tips and information relating to home, decorating, cooking, diet, exercise, fashion - or any one of the other many things that hold my interest.

    Because of this, I've got so many great tried and true tips tucked away I decided to share some of them - starting today.

    As spring approaches many of us are still faced with the doldrums of grey April weather that hasn't yet decided to turn sunny.

    One of my favourite ways to brighten my world at this time of year before the flowers in my garden come out, is to fill my spaces with fresh flowers. Especially in rooms we may not think about.

    There's something so beautiful and modern about fresh flowers in the house.






















    Believe it or not, though, the flowers pictured above were almost two weeks old thanks to the most fabulous tip for helping fresh flowers last longer:

    Mountain Dew!!










    I know!

    That's what I said too.

    But its as effective at amping up fresh flowers as it is little kids!

    Now that I use the Dew, my flowers last almost two weeks - sometimes longer depending on the variety.

    All you do is fill a vase half way with warm water and fill it the rest of the way with Mountain Dew. Plunk your flowers in and Voila!

    I change the water and cut the stems once a week.

    If you try this, let me know how it worked for you!

    The Real Women of Philadelphia - Behind the Scenes of a Would Be Star Part 1

    As you all know, I recently threw my hat in the ring to be a part of a new cooking competition - this time featuring the inimitable Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

    The premise for The Real Women of Philadelphia is to find Canada's next great cooking star and its not too late to enter!

    Through a series of 8 challenges featuring appetizers, sides, main courses, and desserts, Canadian cooks are encouraged to create and present their best dishes featuring Philadelphia Cream Cheese via home video.

    Two finalists will be selected each week, for a total of 16 finalists who will go on to compete in a live cook-off event hosted by Anna Olson in Toronto. Out of that, four winners will be selected to host The Real Women of Philadelphia Website by starring in their own cooking videos, participating as a contributing editor within the community, and contributing to an online cookbook, and each will take home $20,000.00!!

    Although you don't have to do this, I plan to stretch myself by entering the competition each week with a new video as "The Determined Dieter" - featuring me going from Flabulosity to Fabulosity cooking with Philly Cream Cheese.






















    In the meantime, it is fast becoming evident that being a part of a contest such as this is not a solitary affair.

    Not only have my entire family (and friends) been subjected to several tastings, the man I married was promoted to "production assistant" over the weekend which involved looking after his pampered star as I pranced around in white spandex and demanded another "take."

    Next thing you know I'll be requesting my own green room and Evian water to wash my hair.














    Maxxxxxx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And yes, I realize I just dated myself with the Carol Burnett reference.

    ***
    Lets get to the first video!

    This week featuring "Philly Nibblers"

    Moist little bites of cornbread that have been baked with Philly Light cream cheese instead of butter and filled with a creamy cocktail shrimp and Philly centre.

    The recipe can be accessed via my profile on the site.

















    And here is the video.

    (Please note that I accidentally say the cornbread takes 1 Tbsp of sugar (d'uh!) when the recipe I submitted actually calls for 1/4 cup.)

    Live broadcasting people, it's not for the faint of heart!




    Stay tuned tomorrow for a new recipe and an AMAZING tip.

    Until then, be well everyone and Happy Tuesday!

    xoxoxo

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Salmon Fettuccine Alfredo with Rosemary and Philly Cream Cheese

    Hello everyone and Happy Saturday!

    Today's fare is going to be short and sweet because I am right now in Philadelphia Cream Cheese heaven perfecting my first recipe for KRAFT'S The Real Women of Philadelphia contest and I can't wait to share what I've come up with.

    In the meantime, I threw together a quick meal last night featuring Herb and Garlic Philly Cream Cheese Light, fresh salmon, and fetucinni that was quick and delicious!

    It is the perfect blend of creamy, ooey, gooey, comfort with the health benefits of fresh salmon. Better yet, because it is a recipe using cream cheese light, each serving contains about 4.1 grams of fat.

    This was so easy I will surely make it again!

    Salmon Fettuccine Alfredo with Rosemary and Philly Cream Cheese
    For printable recipe click HERE




















    Ingredients

    • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 salmon filets
    • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup white wine
    • zest and juice from one lemon
    • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
    • 2 cups baby spinach
    • 1/2 container Herb and Garlic Philadelphia Cream Cheese light
    • Fettuccine noodles cooked to al dente
    Directions
    1. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet
    2. Add salmon to pan and lightly brown on one side, turn over
    3. Add chicken broth, white wine, zest and lemon juice, and rosemary to pan and simmer until the liquid evaporates by about half.
    4. Break up the salmon, add spinach and stir until wilted.
    5. Add cream cheese and stir well until incorporated.
    6. Serve over fettuccine.


    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Burn More Fat with These Three Breakfast Foods

    It seems strange to admit this now, but I have never been much of a breakfast eater.

    And I can recall mornings as recent as a few months ago, where I would begin to feel desperately hungry around 10 am only to run to the bakery next to my office and fill the gap with some kind of sugary carb.

    Add to that, I wasn't getting adequate sleep (a key component not just to a healthy lifestyle, but to weight loss), and was most likely dehydrated (more on water in a future blog) so that by 3 in the afternoon most days I felt hungry, unproductive, and exhausted.

    I lived life that way thinking it was an age thing rather than lifestyle related.

    But after five weeks of getting enough sleep, exercising everyday, drinking adequate amounts of water, and eating breakfast I am learning there is a whole new life out there of feeling energetic, alive, and - sweet Mary of the Vespers - YOUNG!

    Not only do I FEEL younger, I LOOK younger too.

    (People, I am just vain enough to admit - that, by itself, is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow for good.)

    Because I love you all, I decided to share some more information from Real Age.com about breakfast and how to take advantage of foods that will not only help you feel more alert, they will give your body a fat burning advantage.

    These foods, which have been credited with extra fat-burning and pound-dropping powers in recent studies are: eggs, yogurt, and whole-grain cereal.

    How They Help

    Eggs: When people on low-calorie diets ate two scrambled eggs with toast and jam for breakfast, they lost 65 percent more weight than the dieters who started their day with a bagel. The protein in eggs probably helps control appetite, so people eat less. (Try this recipe for my sweet maple sausage breakfast sandwich)

    Yogurt: Calcium and other helpful compounds in yogurt may help stop fat storage and turn up fat burn. In one study, overweight people on reduced-calorie diets lost 61 percent more fat overall -- and even more belly fat -- when they ate three 6-ounce servings of yogurt every day. This was compared with the people who had no yogurt in their diets. (Short on time? Scroll to the end of the blog for my recipe for On the Go Banana Blueberry Smoothies.)

    Whole-Grain Cereal: Research shows that people lose more belly fat when they replace refined-grain foods with whole grains. All the appetite-controlling fiber they pick up in the process probably accounts for the slimming effect. Plus, whole grains can help control blood sugar and lower blood pressure, and they can even reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. (Try this recipe for my cinnamon blueberry oatmeal)

    Keeping all of this good news in mind, I try to vary my breakfasts to include at least one of these three foods everyday. Instead of eating the same thing every morning, having a variety of dishes to turn to keeps things interesting - a key component to sticking with it for me.

    One of my favourite "go to breakfasts" on busy weekday mornings is the smoothie. The one I make is a creamy, nutrient rich, mixture of regular or soy milk, blueberries, banana, no fat Greek yogurt, and one scoop of Greens Nutra-lean Plus powder.


















    Just blend it up with a couple ice cubes (my trick for making smoothies nice and cold) and you've got a delicious and action packed way to start the day!

    So here's to the start of a beautiful day!

    Until next time everyone, be well...

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Nutrient Rich Turkey Sandwiches

    There's something about a sandwich, don't you think?

    Easily transportable, good for any occasion, and a blank slate for culinary creation because, truly, anything goes when it comes to building the ultimate Dagwood, Reuben, or Clubhouse - the noble sandwich remains one of my favourite things to eat for lunch.

    Does anyone remember some of the great sandwiches from TV?











    When Archie Bunker slapped cold cuts and mustard on bread in the 70's, or Cliff Huxtable bit into one of his forbidden hoagies in the 80's, I was licking my lips and wanting one of my own.

    But now that health and diet have become so important, whole mayonnaise, cheese, white bread, and high fat cold cuts are no longer snack or lunchtime options.

    This doesn't mean, however, that sandwiches are off limits because the healthy combination of ingredients that can go between two slices of bakery fresh whole grain bread are endless and today I'm going to share a sandwich invention I've come up with that I absolutely love.

    The fact that it is also packed with nutrients like lycopene, lutein, beta carotene, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, lean protein, and fibre - to name just a few - makes this a mid-day meal that is not only delicious, it packs a high energy punch.

















    Here's what you do...
    1. Take two slices of high quality whole grain bread. Spread one side with 1 tsp low fat Hellman's mayonnaise, and both sides with 1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard,
    2. Lay 2-3 ounces of low fat roasted turkey breast over one piece of bread, 1/2 sliced avocado, and 1/4 cup tinned mandarin oranges that have been rinsed, drained, and dried off between two pieces of paper towel.
    3. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper and top with baby spinach leaves and the second slice of bread.
    4. If taking this to the office, wrap well in cellophane and keep refrigerated.
    Until tomorrow everyone, eat well, get moving, and stay healthy!

    xoxoxo

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Diary of a Determined Dieter: What I have Learned So Far and Korean Style Pork Tenderloin

    "You look at yourself and you accept yourself for who you are, and once you accept yourself for who you are you become a better person."
    — Oprah Winfrey

    I truly believe that.

    I also believe the road to change - whether it be a change in attitude, perspective, or health has to begin with self - and if that wounded soul deep inside still feels unworthy in any way, change for the better becomes difficult - if not impossible.

    If we try to build a new house without first pouring a firm foundation, the house is eventually and inevitably going to crumble.

    But if we take the time to do the ground work - working on our inside with the goal of being totally accepting and loving about who we are on the outside - we stand a greater chance for success when we embark on new challenges; when this new light of self acceptance shines from within, it lights the way, and provides a strong footing for change.

    If you don't like to see pictures of yourself or come from a place of self loathing about who that person in the picture is, I guarantee weight loss, fitness, giving up an addiction, or even taking a risk is going to be far more difficult.

    And why wouldn't it?

    If the very foundation you are trying to build on is whispering constantly and in a thousand different ways, "I'm not worthy," how can any kind of lasting change take place?

    I believe that to see ourselves and say with reverence, "Oh you sweet, loveable soul, I absolutely adore you," is God's wish for us all.

    If each person on this planet was able to say that, there would be no war.

    And certainly, none of us would be at war with ourselves.

    Instead, of lamenting, "I hate my body," we would think "I love myself enough to make this change."

    ***

    While getting healthy is a lot about what goes on inside, the food we choose to feed ourselves is also a big part of that sense of worth. When we take the time to put together meals that are full of flavour it actually becomes easier to eat less because we are being satisfied on more than one level.

    Most of us overeat because there's a place inside that feels empty. Especially when life gets stressful - we turn to food to fill the deficit.

    Imagine the sense of loss when the very thing we turn to is bland, processed, or not delicious?

    If we don't take the time to assure we are feeding - not just our bodies - but our souls and our senses, it will only be a matter of time before that bag of chips or slab of cake convinces us we need it in our lives.

    So how about a delicious Korean Style Pork Tenderloin for dinner tonight? This is another fabulous recipe from Cooking Light. At 184 calories, 6.2 grams fat per serving it's an absolute winner and so easy and delicious you won't believe it!

    Korean Style Pork Tenderloin
    For printable recipe click here



















    Ingredients
    • 1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
    • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
    • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
    • Olive oil cooking spray
    Directions
    1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large zip lock bag, then add the pork. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
    2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat.
    3. Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan, cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.
    4. Place pan in oven, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 155-160 degrees (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
    5. Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Cut pork into 1/4 inch thick slices and drizzle with sauce. Enjoy.


    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    The Real Women of Philadelphia, Becoming a Food Superstahhh, and Oven Fried Catfish

    The title was quite a mouthful, I know - but I'm writing from a place of such absolute excitement and bliss, I don't care.

    This because my famous last words: "Look out Food TV - this Maven has only just begun" from the blog "My Stacked Bowls - A Recipe to Riches Exclusive" have proven true!

    And I am once again at the ready to embark on another food related adventure - this time with Philadelphia Cream Cheese!


















    I know!

    The best part being, I am a long time user of Philly products, and I'm rarin to go - ready to come up with all kinds of new and exciting recipes.

    And now that I'm everyone's favourite Determined Dieter, it's even more fun because I have the opportunity to use these products in ways that are light and healthy.

    To learn more about the contest, and to enter a FABULOUS giveaway, go over to my friend Brenda's blog Brenda's Canadian Kitchen and check it out. While you're there, leave a comment as to how you like to use Philly Cream Cheese to enter the giveaway and then make sure to follow or subscribe.

    You won't be sorry - Brenda always has great recipes - although be forewarned, you will leave most days licking your lips and hungry for more.

    And me, well I've already come up with my first entree - Go Big or Go Home people - we had it last night and it has recieved the Poolboy (aka The Man I Married's) seal of approval.

    But I can't post it just yet... you have to wait for the contest where you will see me live - cooking, and stirring - in the white spandex track suit no less.

    In the meantime, I'm going to share a favourite recipe from Cooking Light for Oven Fried Catfish.

    We had this for dinner Sunday night and absolutely loved it. Don't let the simplicity of the ingredients or the hot sauce scare you - we were blown away by how well this came together and how crunchy the coating was. You could use any firm white fish for this recipe - and do use the full amount of hot sauce (Louisiana is best) because it just makes this dish.

    You'll have to forgive the absence of a photograph for this one - in a spate of organization, I erased the photo from my hard drive. Trust me, though, it's really, really good!

    Oven Fried Catfish
    Calories: 296, fat: 8.8 grams
    For printable recipe click HERE

    Ingredients
    • 1/2 cup light beer (I used non-alcoholic beer because we had some kicking around from Christmas)
    • 1/2 cup hot sauce
    • 4 (6-ounce) farm-raised catfish fillets or other firm white fish
    • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (I was out so I used flour - it was fine)
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    • Cooking spray
    Directions
    1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Remove fish from bag; pat dry with paper towels. Discard marinade.
    2. Preheat oven to 450°.Combine cornmeal, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge fish in cornmeal mixture.
    3. Lightly coat fish with cooking spray. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
    Happy cooking everyone!



      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Sweet Maple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich - Weigh Day!

      Sunday morning.

      Coffee, a lazy breakfast, extra time spent in pyjamas, and...

      THE SCALE.

      Because Sunday, or, "weigh day" is the moment of truth where the gloves (aka "clothes") come off and I step, ever so lightly, onto the bathroom scale to see if my healthy eating, water drinking, apple cider vinegar taking, jogging, and all around health promoting self has melted any more flab.

      Last week I lost a pound, which, according to the automated Weight Watchers message (one pops up each time you submit a new weight) was great because in week three people often gain.

      But today when I stepped on the scale and it registered a four pound weight loss - sweet hallelujah - the automated message on high chastised me, telling me I was losing weight too quickly.

      I have been advised to speak to my doctor to learn how to lose weight more slowly.

      Ahem.

      Hell to the No.

      I got here in the first place because I am an expert at losing weight slowly.

      People, where the butter at?

      Anyways, this morning's breakfast sandwich with turkey sausage, sweet red bell pepper, green onion, low fat cream cheese, and pure maple syrup was so yummy I had to share!

      Stay tuned later for a Sunday dinner recipe we loved so much we had a hard time believing it was healthy.

      Be well everyone and Happy Sunday!

      Sweet Maple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
      For printable recipe, click HERE
















      Ingredients
      • Pam cooking spray
      • One pre-cooked turkey sausage link cut into bite sized pieces (I pre-cook turkey sausage and store in freezer bags for quick breakfast options)
      • 1 Tbsp diced sweet red pepper
      • 1 Tbsp diced green onion
      • 1 egg
      • black pepper to taste
      • 1 Tbsp Philly Light cream cheese
      • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
      • 1 Weight Watchers flat roll (or whole wheat English muffin)
      Directions
      1. Mix the cream cheese and maple syrup together.
      2. Spray a non stick pan with Pam and pre-heat on medium high. Crack egg into pan and break yolk slightly. Add the sausage, red pepper, onion, and pepper and cook egg all the way through turning once.
      3. Toast the English muffin or flat roll and spread with maple cream cheese. Add the egg mixture and enjoy!


      Saturday, April 2, 2011

      Smoked Salmon and Philly Light Cream Cheese on Weight Watcher's Flat Rolls

      Last night was my husband's birthday and, as per family tradition, we went for dinner and cake to his mom's house because she is very big on special occasions.

      We totally understand how much events like this mean for her.

      As such, we usually try to bring one of her favourite foods along as a treat - which often means Kentucky Fried Chicken.

      Not only did I, the determined dieter, pick up a 20 piece bucket with fries, salads, and the sweet elixir of all things holy: The Colonel's gravy, I drove it over to my mother in law's house all the while enveloped by the smells of fried food and spices.

      But here's where it gets interesting; the food didn't smell good.

      At all.

      It smelled greasy, and lardy, and quite frankly - a little gross.

      (Am I really getting this healthy?)

      So I stayed and visited, had a good time, sipped tea and told myself I would put together something special when I got home.



















      One of my favourite foods in the whole world is bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, so last night I put together a healthier version for myself using Weight Watchers flat rolls instead of bagels.

      Before I tell you about the rest of the sandwich, let me start by saying Weight Watchers flat rolls are a revelation. At only 1 point per serving they toast up nice and crispy and taste delicious!

      I topped the toasted flat roll with Philly Light cream cheese, thinly sliced purple onion, smoked salmon, avocado, and capers and served it with assorted veggies, kalamata olives, and pickled asparagus and have to say I enjoyed every last bite.
















      Perhaps this is another tip...

      If you find yourself in a situation where food is being served that is contrary to your health plan it`s okay to not eat it. Visit, have fun, and get through the temptation by promising yourself something even more delicious when you get home.

      At least that`s my story... and I`m stickin to it ;)

      Happy Saturday everyone!