Tag Archives: Casserole

Lightened Squash Casserole a la Sweetie Pie

Squash Casserole

I try to eat a healthy diet. Really, I do. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up eating lots of vegetables. They were just typically smothered in cheese or pork fat. I’m so happy that I now enjoy my vegetables naked or with simpler preparations. That’s not to say that… sometimes… I miss some of the old recipes.

Yellow squash might be one of my favorite vegetables. What’s your favorite veggie?

SquashAs a kid, we would sometimes have it boiled down and mashed with butter. Other times, it might find its way into a stir fry with other things from the garden. My faaaaavorite way to eat it, however, was in a cheesy squash casserole. 

I was recently reorganizing my pantry as part of my pantry clean out effort, and I came across a forgotten can.

Mysterious and DeliciousI bought these when making a green bean casserole for a holiday get together sometime back. Yes, the can has the word “New!” on it, but these are anything but. Anyway, I feel like this is a true confession of some sort. Yes. My name is Sweetie Pie, and I had a can of fried onions, that strange ingredient that shows up frequently in casseroles and at southern potluck parties, hanging out in my pantry. I decided to ignore the list of somewhat mysterious “ingredients” and whip up a lightened version of an old favorite. I can’t tell you for certain what these are really made of, but, um… I can tell you that I kind of dig them in a casserole. 

Din Din

Sweetie’s “Lighten Up” Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

1 pound summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 cup chopped onions

cooking spray

3/4 cup egg beaters

2 Tbsp. skim milk

4 ounces grated light sharp cheddar (I used Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar but any cheese (reduced fat or not) would work)

1/2 cup French fried onions

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Steam the squash until it is tender. It took about 8 minutes for my slices to steam in a metal steamer basket set into a pot of boiling water. 

While the squash is steaming, saute the onion in a skillet coated with cooking spray or a bit of olive oil.

Spray a 2 qt. casserole dish with cooking spray and set it aside.

When the onions are tender, probably after about seven minutes of cooking, add the steamed squash to the onions and continue to cook for about three minutes. During this time, use the edge of your spatula to break up the squash and incorporate it with the onions. This will also help to dry the squash out a bit which should help to prevent a soggy casserole. Remove from the heat.

Squash chopperyWhile the squash cools a bit, set aside half of the cheese and half of the onions to use as a topping. Combine the remaining half of the cheddar cheese and fried onions in a medium sized bowl along with the eggbeaters, milk, salt, pepper and spices.

Gradually add the squash and onion mixture to the egg beater mixture, stirring while you add the warm ingredients to keep the egg from scrambling.

Pour the mixture into your casserole dish, and then top it with the remaining fried onions followed by the remaining cheddar. Pop it into the oven and bake it for 35 minutes or until the egg is set and the cheese starts to brown on the top.

Oven Ready

I divided mine into six servings. 🙂 

I’ve got to get to bed, but before I go I want to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Aunt Nancy. I ate some of my homemade ice cream this evening and had a little celebration of my own in her honor. 🙂 It was always so nice having my aunt and uncle close by, and I always looked forward to spending time with them in the Ozarks each summer. My brother and I would get to go swimming in nearby creeks and rock quarries, visit Branson and Silver Dollar City, pick blackberries in the woods, feed the flying squirrels and just generally have a great time at their house each summer. As the song goes…. “Thanks for the memories…” and a very happy birthday to you!

Now, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow is Friday. Woo hoo!!! Ciao for now, y’all and have a great weekend!

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Filed under Casserole, cooking, diet, Food, Lowfat, Recipes, Squash, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss

Another Thursday in the Life

BrekkieIn just a few hours… it will be Friday! Hooray!! This has been a hectic week. I didn’t get to work from home this Thursday, like I usually do, but I decided to do a food journal post anyway. Oh, and before I go on, you might notice something new over on the right hand side. I’ve joined the Foodbuzz featured publishers program. I’m excited! I’ve really been having a great time meeting new people on the foodbuzz site, so I decided to go ahead and jump on the bandwagon.

Ok. Here’s the rundown of what I ate today. My breakfast is featured at the top of the page, and it was so yummy! It deserves top billing!! I started off with a Thomas Light Multi-grain English muffin (my fave English muffin!!) topped with some Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter and a small banana. Part of the banana didn’t fit on the muffins, so it got sprinkled with cinnamon. I decided to dust the whole thing for good measure. I also made a big pot of my chocolate/coconut/cherry tea, which I mixed with almond milk and skim milk in my thermos and in my mug. I think I’m becoming a fan of tea in the morning. The flavor is nice and delicate, and I’m really enjoying it! 

LunchThis photo makes my lunch look weird, but I promise that it was really yummy. My office seems to be a bad place for photography! I had the last piece of my Broccoli and White Bean Bake from the freezer, along with the rest of my Sunny Basil Orange Salad. I’m loving the salad. It’s bright and happy, and I like the combination of the fruit and carrots with the basil syrup. Yum! I think I’m going to have to make another batch of the bake. I was sad to eat the last piece. 

Vitabrownie and PB Date

For dessert, I had a vitabrownie (yum!) and a Medjool date stuffed with a bit of reduced fat peanut butter. PB+Dates= Serious Deliciousness!!

SamplerAround 1:30 an e-mail went around about some leftover “cake and other food” from the awards ceremony that was held in my office yesterday. I wasn’t planning to go and check out the leftovers, but a healthy eating friend sent me an e-mail to tell me that the “other food” was fruit and veggies! I decided to go and get a little plate and, since I skipped the reception yesterday, I decided to have a very tiny piece of the cake. Two bites did the trick! Other snacks this afternoon included:

A Chocolate Mocha Fiber One bar…

Fiber One Bar

A mix of Trader Joe’s fruit and fiber cereal and Gerbs pumpkin seeds…

cereal and seeds

… and Siggi’s Orange and Ginger (my favorite Siggi’s flavor) with Fiber One. I might have overdone it a bit with the fiber today, but it kept me full! The Fiber One and measuring cup are part of my desk stash!

Siggi'sFor dinner, I decided to get creative. I seared some tofu, topped it with Trader Joe’s roasted vegetable tapenade and a bit of parmesan, broiled it to brown the cheese and then had it “open faced sandwich style” on some of my homemade bran bread. It was yummy! I’m going to be making tofu that way more often. I had some crispy cucumber, juicy tomato and hummus on the side.

Din DinI had another vitabrownie for dessert with some fat free cool whip. I usually try not to eat two vitas in the same day, but I got a big on-line order yesterday, and they were so fresh and moist! So good! They are all in the freezer now, so I won’t be as tempted to have two tomorrow. The vitabrownie and Cool Whip combo reminds me of a Hostess cupcake. Yum! I used to love those things!

Vitabrownie 2After I went to the gym, I was hungry so I had a bowl of oat bran with honey and cinnamon honey almonds. I ate it pretty late, and I may be sorry when I do my weigh-in tomorrow morning. I was hungry. If I weigh more, so be it. I know it will all average out eventually anyway and my one snapshot on Friday mornings is just that– a snapshot. I’m making excuses already, which seems like the wrong thing to do, but that was my thought process when I decided to go ahead and have a bowl. It was lovely and sweet and very satisfying. 

oat branMaybe it’s just me, but I think honey, almonds and cinnamon make a pretty combination. They certainly taste awesome together!!

Now, I need to head off to bed. I have a busy day ahead of me, but I’m hoping to wrap up a project tomorrow. I love finishing things on a Friday. I never work weekends, but it is nice to know that it won’t be waiting for me on Monday morning! Have a lovely Friday, and I’ll be telling you about my weigh-in tomorrow as well as a snack I enjoyed this week and the winner of my little contest. You have until tomorrow morning to enter. If you haven’t posted a comment on that post already, I hope you will. I’d love to send some snacks your way.

I also wanted to mention that Erica is giving away a mouthwateringly delicious looking creation (man do I love baked goods!!) to celebrate her 1 year blogging birthday. Check it out: Itzy’s Kitchen

G’night!!! See you tomorrow!

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Filed under Bread, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

A Tale of Two Pavlovas and a Day in the Life

Baklava Pavlova

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was excited about my pavlova plan for last night. It’s a little creation I like to call “Baklava Pavlova”… because that’s fun to say, and because it has the nut and honey combo that makes baklava so darn tasty! I mixed 1/2 a tsp of Tupelo honey with 2 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt to make the creamy topping, topped that with chopped cinnamon almonds, and then drizzled another 1/2 of a tsp of honey over the top. I think this one might have been my favorite of the four pavlovas, although tonight’s was pretty awesome too!!!

Since I have to sit through a lawyeriffic conference for the next two days (whilst trying to avoid munching on the breakfast and lunch buffets out of boredom…), I decided to just go ahead and do my weekly “day in the life” food journal post today. I was also working from home, which typically results in less interruptions. So, here it is…

Breakfast was a latte made with unsweetened vanilla almond breeze and a bit of sugar free Torani white chocolate syrup. Unsweetened vanilla almond breeze is, hands down, my favorite non-dairy milk. I really love the stuff! I also had a bowl of oat bran topped with five strawberries, 1/2 an ounce of chopped cinnamon almonds from Trader Joe’s and 1/2 of a Tbsp. of honey. I’m so excited about the oat bran purchase, and this bowl was delicious. Amazingly, it kept me full until lunch, and I didn’t need to go looking for an 11:00 snack.

BreakfastI love oat bran!! I’m also a big fan of anything involving honey and nuts. Speaking of honey, do you know the Van Morrison song, “Tupelo Honey?” I’m a fan of it. I was thinking of it when I chose the Tupelo honey over the other honeys at the store. If I need to laugh, I just listen to that song and focus on the back up singers. They make the song. Their part is hilarious. Speaking of focusing…. Sorry about that…. 

Oat Bran, Strawberries, Cinnamon Almonds and HoneyFor lunch, I made a salad with Boston butter lettuce, roma tomato, carrots, onions and celery and then topped it with my favorite creamy dressing. 

Hummussy SaladMy dressing is made of 1 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt, 2 Tbsp. of Forty Spices Hummus, and a little bit of salt and then thinned out with a bit of lemon juice. Since there are about a zillion flavors of hummus available, the possibilities for this dressing seem endless.

Hummus, Yogurt and Lemon... Yum!I also had a serving of my “Big Batch” Broccoli and White Bean Bake  and some leftover spinach and mushrooms topped with a bit of parmesan cheese. I think the casserole is getting better by the day, and I’m really loving the beans!

Broccoli and White Bean Bake

For lunch dessert, I had a bowl of TJ’s fruit and fiber cereal with some dried peaches and a little skim milk.

Lunch DessertTime sort of got away from me this afternoon. I spent a lot of the day on the phone with my boss and with the analysts I work with trying to get things squared away before my two day hiatus. At some point,  I realized that I was past due for a snack so I doubled up and had a bowl of fresh pineapple and a piece of peanut butter toast with sugar free jam.

PB&J Toast and PineappleAfter that, I had a vitatop…

Chocolate Vita TopThat was followed by one last snack before I went to kickboxing. Despite being sick, I’ve mostly kept up with my workout schedule. It has been tough to muster up the energy to go, but I find that I feel better afterwards. At the very least, my nose unstops for a little while. I went to class tonight since I can’t go tomorrow during lunch, and I needed something that would hold me past my usual dinnertime and through the class. Siggi’s Pomegranate and Passion Fruit (with its 16 grams of protein) was the winner along with some Fiber One. I tried the orange and ginger flavor last week and posted about it. I tried the blueberry yesterday, and really liked it. I’d been saving this one since it involved pomegranate (which I LOVE), thinking that it would be “blow my mind” good. Unfortunately, the passion fruit flavor is predominant, and, well, I don’t love passion fruit. I think that the orange and ginger is my fave, and I’ll definitely be stocking up on it and the blueberry in the future. 

Siggi'sAfter class, I made dinner: crispy kale and tacos made with 96/4 ground beef, Cabot 75% reduced fat sharp cheddar, Pepitos corn tortillas (2 for 1 point!), and some salsa. I love tex mex, and I can usually get a fix with something as basic as this.

Crispy Kale and TacosFinally…. Pavlova’s swan song. I ate the last of my four little pavlovas this evening. I’m going to be sad when I don’t have one to eat tomorrow night, but I’m determined not to get into a pavlova addiction/dessert rut. The last pavlova was topped with some fat free cool whip, a Tbsp. of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, and fresh strawberries. It was a pretty classic flavor combo with a bit of peanut buttery goodness mixed in, and it was yummy. I think that the Baklava Pavlova was my favorite, but this one is probably the runner up.

Pavlova's Swan Song

If you were dressing a pavlova, what would yours be wearing? 

I had a pretty yummy day!! Now I need to pack a bunch of snacks for tomorrow and head off to bed. These conferences always seem to involve buffets of pastries in the morning and buffets of mayonnaisey salads and cardboardy desserts at noon. I’m not planning to avoid the free food altogether. I just suspect that, if this is similar to other events I’ve attended, most of the food may not really be worth my points. That means I need to be prepared with things that I would prefer to eat so that I don’t eat the other junk out of boredom or hunger. I may sneak a few photos, and I will definitely tell you how it goes tomorrow including whether any of the food makes the cut and finds its way onto my plate!!

A few tidbits to wrap up:

Tina– you will be getting some interview questions from me tomorrow or Friday so get ready! I can’t wait to learn more about you!

BSI!!!

Don’t forget to submit your BSI entries to me at melodylawgirl@yahoo.com by midnight on Sunday, March 1st. This week is BSI: Black Beans. I’ve received one luscious looking entry so far, and updated the post so check it out!

Other Awesome Contests!!

Check out this awesome granola that Heather is giving away at Hangry Pants.

Also check out this fun giveaway going on at Mara’s site!

Goodnight, y’all!

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Filed under BSI, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

“Big Batch” Broccoli and White Bean Bake

"Big Batch" Broccoli and White Bean Bake

It’s Sunday, and I’ve got a bit of a cold so I’m not feeling my best today. I’ve had a pretty healthy winter, so I guess I shouldn’t complain! Even though I’m feeling a bit under the weather, the work week is still looming, and it is time for me to make my weekly “big batch” food to have in my lunches. Often, when “big batch” day comes along, I go into the kitchen and do a little produce inventory. I hardly ever find myself running out to the store so that I can make a particular recipe. I usually just identify whatever items need to be used and then look for inspiration.

Last week, I ordered extra broccoli in my “Merry Produce Wednesday” box. If, by the way, you have found your way to my site thanks to the great newsletter prepared by Lisa at Washington’s Green Grocer, welcome to you!!! I’m glad you’re here!

Broccoli

I had a ton of broccoli, and I wanted to plan a dish around it. I considered making a lightened up broccoli cheese soup, but I enjoyed last week’s mushroom casserole so much that I decided to try something similar to that again this week. I wanted a casserole with a lot of flavor, a decent amount of protein and a hint of cheesy goodness. This is what I came up with:

“Big Batch” Broccoli and White Bean Bake

Ingredients:

Nonstick Cooking Spray

Salt (for sprinkling on broccoli and salting the pasta water)

1/2 pound broccoli, cleaned and prepped (stems peeled and sliced, florets broken apart)

4 ounces uncooked whole wheat elbow pasta (I used Barilla Plus elbows in my points calculation)

1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp. dried thyme

1 egg

1 egg white

1 cup 1% lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup light sour cream

2 tsp. dijon mustard

3/4 tsp. salt

1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 ounces reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, diced rather small (I used Cabot 75% reduced fat sharp cheddar in my points calculation)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Roasting the Broccoli:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a pot of water on the stove to heat to a boil for the pasta.

Spray two baking sheets well with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange broccoli florets and sliced stems on baking sheets in a single layer. Spray the broccoli with cooking spray and then sprinkle it with a bit of salt. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. After the broccoli has cooled a bit, place it on the cutting board and give it a rough chop.

Cooking the pasta:

Cook pasta according to package directions, and be sure to liberally salt the pasta water. When pasta is done, drain the water and set the pasta aside.

Sauteeing the Onions and Garlic:

While pasta and broccoli are cooking, Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 7 minutes. Add dried thyme to the skillet and saute for one more minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combining the ingredients:

In a large bowl, beat the egg and egg white well. Add the cottage cheese, sour cream, dijon mustard and 3/4 tsp. salt. Mix thoroughly. Add the white beans, pasta, onion mixture and chunks of cheddar to the bowl and fold all ingredients in well. Add the broccoli, and stir it in combining all ingredients and making sure that everything is coated in the egg mixture. 

Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the broccoli mixture into the baking pan and smooth it out evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the casserole from the oven, remove the aluminum foil, top with the parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are browned.

If you are a Weight Watcher, this makes 8 unofficial 4 point servings using the Barilla pasta and the Cabot cheese. You can certainly use other brands, but you may wish to recalculate the points. 

I find that one of the easiest ways to cook with less fat and calories is to really infuse each component of a dish like this one with flavor. That’s why I suggest roasting the broccoli rather than steaming or boiling it. It’s easy, and it gives the broccoli a lot of flavor that really punches up the taste factor in the casserole. I often roast my broccoli this way and have it as a side dish. Those little browned crispy bits make me happy!

I hate wasting food, so I always use the stems of my broccoli. I remove the tough outer skin with my vegetable peeler and then slice the tender flesh that lurks under that tough exterior.

Roasted BroccoliI’m not a big pasta eater at all, but, as I said, I’m not feeling great today and pasta is comforting. I find that I don’t need a lot of pasta in a dish like this, so I only included a rather modest amount. There are so many yummy things in here, that I didn’t see any reason to weigh it all down with a pasta majority. When you are using a small amount of pasta, a small pasta like these elbows is perfect because a handful of them can infiltrate a pretty big space. Salting the pasta water well will give the little elbows a good amount of flavor, so don’t forget the salt!

Barilla Plus Elbows

I decided to chop the cheese into little bitty cubes, rather than shredding or grating it, because I feel like it is less likely to get “lost” if I incorporate slightly larger pieces. I want to know that the cheese is in there, but I don’t want to have to use too much of it to accomplish that. If you can’t find the Cabot cheese I used where you live, no worries. You can use another cheese. Just try to find a reduced fat cheddar that is sharp or extra sharp, as the sharper cheese will provide more flavor in a smaller quantity. If you choose to use the pre-shredded type, it will be perfectly fine. I just think the little cubes are slightly better.

Cheese!

I added Dijon mustard to the “glue” mixture, because I find that a little bit of mustard really enhances the flavor of cheese.

GlueYou can see the bits of thyme used to infuse the onion and garlic mixture in here as well as the beans, which give this a creamy texture while adding fiber and protein. Win win! I used cannellini beans, but any small white bean will work just fine.

Ready to get cookin'!Cooking the casserole covered for half the time and then cooking uncovered after adding the cheese is another good way to enhance the presence of the cheese. Parmesan is a great topper because of its strong flavor. Here’s what the finished casserole looked like in the pan:

Done!

Now, I’m all set with something hearty and healthy to have for my lunches this week. I’m going to be eating luncheon food (plus my own snacks I’m sure…) on Thursday and Friday at an ABA conference, so I think I’m going to put a few servings of this casserole in the freezer. I love using the freezer! I’d much rather pull out a container of this than a sad store bought microwave dinner any day!

They say that as long as you are only sick from the neck up it is ok to work-out. I’ve found that sometimes it even makes me feel better. I’m going to finish polishing off my piece of casserole and then head to the gym. We’ll see how it goes. If it isn’t going well, I’ll abandon the effort in favor of a cup of tea. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.  

I hope you try this recipe (let me know if you do!!), and I hope you have a great week!!

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Filed under diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Another Day in the Life…

BreakfastSince today was a “work from home” day, I decided to do another post to show you what a typical day’s menu looks like for me. This morning, I started off by making a little pot of espresso. I added the rich espresso to 1/2 cup of skim milk and 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze with a bit of sugar free chocolate Torani syrup. You may wonder why I mix almond milk and skim milk. Well, I love the almond milk, but it doesn’t count as a dairy serving for purposes of weight watchers. I hate to miss a perfect opportunity– a morning latte, to get in some “official” dairy so the mixture is my compromise. 

Big BowlAlong with my latte, I had a serving of Hodgson Mill Bulgur Wheat with Soy leftover from the batch I made to go with my curried cauliflower. I really love this stuff. It is nutty and yummy plus, a serving has 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. You get a lot of bang for 2 weight watcher points! I topped it with a little of the almond milk from my latte mug, some chopped up cinnamon almonds from TJ’s and a bit of honey. It was sooooo good! 

Siggi's Orange & GingerSince I was planning to kickbox at noon, that meant that my lunch would be late and also that I would be in for a challenging workout. Today’s class was definitely tough! I felt pretty energetic start to finish and noticed that my form is starting to improve, which made me happy. My kickboxing class is always the toughest, but most fun workout I have all week. I’m so glad I got brave enough to try it!

I decided I needed to have a filling snack around 11:00 to give me a little energy boost before class. At Whole Foods the other day, my curiosity was piqued by this Siggi’s Icelandic style skyr strained non-fat yogurt in Orange & Ginger. I bought it thinking that it would be a little treat, and it was exactly that. It has a texture very much like that of my beloved Fage Greek yogurt, and the flavorings were lovely. It is sweetened with agave nectar and was just sweet enough with my Fiber One cereal twigs. As a plus, this little container packs 16 grams of protein!! Most importantly– it was just tasty. I loved the little bits of ginger and the fresh taste of the orange. There was a pomegranate variety on the shelf beside this one, and I’m definitely going to have to try it next!
Lunch!For lunch, I had some of my leftover mushroom casserole along with a very tasty salad. The casserole doesn’t look nearly as yummy as it tastes. I’ve really been enjoying it in my lunches this week!

SaladMy salad was a mix of romaine, grape tomatoes, celery, carrots, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds topped with freshly ground pepper and my mustard and cherry vinegar mixture. Yum! I thought it was too pretty not to have its own close up.

Blueberry ShortcakeAre you a fellow vitamuffin eater? If yes, have you tried the golden corn vitatop? I order big boxes of vitamuffins and keep my freezer well stocked. I usually stick with the chocolate varieties of the vitatops (the peanut butter fudge ones are my fave), but I decided to try the golden corn vitatops when I placed my last order. I figured that this is soup and chili season, and, well, what goes better with soup and chili than cornbread?! As it turns out, these remind me more of the old school shortbread cake that my mom used to make when we would have strawberry shortcake than the cornbread I ate as a kid, which was not usually very sweet. Sure enough, when topped with berries and some fat free cool whip, it makes a great shortcake. I’m a big fan! When berries are back in season, I will have to order more of these along with my usual chocolate selections.

Sugar Snap SnackOne of my snacks this afternoon was the rest of my sugar snap peas from last night.

Cara CaraI also had a beautiful and sweet cara cara red naval orange. It looks like a grapefruit, but tastes like an orange. Tricky… and delish!

Cascadian Farms BarFor my last afternoon snack, I had a Cascadian Farm organic fiber right dark chocolate almond chewy granola bar. I bought these on a whim, along with the Siggi’s, at Whole Foods the other day, and I will be buying them again. I love Fiber One bars, but they do have a lot of strange ingredients in them. This was very similar, but its ingredients are a bit less mysterious. I don’t expect it to replace my Fiber One bar addiction, but I do expect to keep some of these around. I really like them a lot. In fact, I bought them on Sunday and there is only one left. 

DinnerFor dinner, I sauteed some shallot, garlic, mushrooms and spinach. I made enough to fill several omelets or to make several frittatas. I really do love leftovers! I put some of the spinach mixture in my little skillet, topped it with egg beaters, cottage cheese and reduced fat parmesan, and then popped it under the broiler. I had this along with a lovely sliced tomato topped with fresh pepper and a piece of Nature’s Own Double Fiber bread topped with Better ‘n Peanut Butter and sugar free raspberry preserves.
TJ's Fruit and Fiber CerealAfter dinner, I had a bowl of Trader Joe’s Fruit and Fiber cereal with a splash of almond milk. A bowl of cereal like this would not keep me full for very long, but it makes a good snack or bite of something sweet.

Chocolate HeartSpeaking of bites of sweetness, I finished the night off with a little bite of chocolate. I am usually immune to post holiday candy sales, but these Lake Champlain chocolates from Whole Foods looked too good to pass up. I’ve been eating one piece each night, and enjoying them completely! Tonight I ate the one with the tree. It had pieces of mint in it. Yum! 

After I finish this post, I’m planning to have a cup of vanilla honey chamomile tea and then head off to bed. Tomorrow morning is my weigh-in, and I’m not really sure what to expect. Regardless of how that turns out, I’ve eaten lots of good healthy food this week, and I’ve enjoyed making some new recipes. I hope that you are enjoying my little cooking adventures too!

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Filed under Cooking Light, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Mmmushroom Casserole

On the Chopping Block

I love reading about food, which is why my blog contains lists of links to some of my favorite sites. Some of my favorites aren’t very weight watcher friendly, but they do contain gorgeous photos of cupcakes and exotic destinations. Others, like 101 Cookbooks, pack a double punch with gorgeous photos plus recipes that use real wholesome foods and can often be easily adapted to work well on weight watchers. While looking around on 101 Cookbooks the other day, I came across Heidi’s recipe for a mushroom casserole and knew that I just had to try it.

I didn’t really grow up eating mushrooms, although there are two exceptions to that statement. We often had casseroles that involved canned cream of mushroom soup with teeny tiny little bits of mushroom in it. This soup would sometimes masquerade as gravy on mashed potatoes or rice too. I remember that I loved that particular combination, and that could be why this casserole sounded so good.

The other exception involved the tiny little cans of sliced mushrooms. I loved spending Saturdays at my grandparents’ house. My memaw would often buy a Chef Boyardee pizza kit, and my brother and I would hang out on Saturday and make our own pizza. You know the kit, right? It’s the one with dried little package of cheese, the tiny can of pizza sauce and the crust mix? Are they still available? I haven’t looked for one in years. We always embellished the pizza by adding the little canned mushrooms, ground beef, lots of extra cheese, and, if we were feeling particularly fancy, we might even add black olives. I looked forward to pizza Saturdays, and, just like now, I was always so excited when the finished product came out of the oven looking all golden and bubbly.

When I started incorporating more veggies in my diet, I came to really love mushrooms– grilled, sauted, stuffed, roasted… devoured! When I saw this recipe, I knew what my “big batch” food needed to be this week. Heidi had a couple of suggestions to lighten the casserole up, and I changed a couple of other things as well. If you want to see the original recipe (and if you’ve never checked out 101 Cookbooks you totally should), please click on the link in the paragraph above. I’m going to put my version below as it is the one I used to calculate points using the magic gadget.

Crispy and Golden

Mushroom Casserole adapted from the recipe on 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients:

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 pound (8 ounces) mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 large red onion, chopped well

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp. fines herbes

3 cups cooked brown rice at room temperature

1/2 cup egg beaters

1 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Extra fines herbes for sprinkling on the top

 

 

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large skillet over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms in the olive oil sprinkled with a couple of pinches of salt. Stir every minute or so until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit. Add the onions and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until they are translucent. Stir in the garlic and the fines herbes, cook for another minute and remove from heat. Add the rice to the skillet and stir until combined.

In a large bowl whisk together the egg beaters, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt.

Combine the rice mixture and cottage cheese mixture in the large bowl, stir until well combined and then turn out into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more or until hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and fines herbes if you wish.

This makes 6 unofficial 4 point servings

I used a red onion in honor of Valentine’s Day, and also because that was the only kind of onion in my onion drawer. I never run out of onions! I don’t know how that happened, but I will be heading to the store this evening. That rates as an emergency in my book! If you have a yellow onion or, even better, a vidalia, that would be good too. Although, I will say that I like the color and sweetness of the red in this dish. I will probably use a red onion “on purpose” the next time I make this dish because I liked it so much.

Red Onion and Friends

Heidi’s recipe called for a sprinkling of fresh tarragon over the top of the finished casserole. I forgot to pick up tarragon at the store, but felt like I needed to give this a little punch. Since I lightened the casserole ingredients, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to infuse the rice mixture with a little extra flavor so I added some fines herbes, which is one of my favorite blends of herbs. It gives a little French flair to almost anything. It is typically a mixture of tarragon, parsley, chives and chervil. Chervil is such a funny word! Anyway, I think that fines herbes is pretty widely available, but if you can’t find it, you could toss in some thyme or rosemary, use the fresh tarragon on top, or just leave it plain. It would be good that way too. If you want to know more about fines herbes, click this link: link. It could be your fun fact of the day. Hey, you never know when you might find yourself on Jeopardy. I can see it now: This herb blend typically includes parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil. BUZZ: Alex, what is fines herbes? If you win big, don’t forget about me!

Fines Herbes

Sauteeing the Veggies

Rice and Veg

The Glue

Altogether Now

Ready for the Oven

The smell of the casserole baking in the oven was amazing. This is a stick to your ribs kind of dish, and I decided to stick some to my ribs last night along with a salad made of romaine, a few pickled beets, some carrots, a few quartered grapes, a few roasted and salted pumpkin seeds and a bit of goat cheese topped with my favorite zero point salad dressing: some coarse mustard mixed with a little vinegar, salt and pepper. This casserole is going to be a great addition to my lunches this week! I’m so glad that I came across the recipe! Thanks, Heidi!

Dinner!

One more thing: Beadie over at What I Ate Yesterday is hosting a contest. The winner gets to try some Country Bob’s All-Purpose Sauce. I don’t think you can go wrong with something called “Country Bob’s.” I’ll bet Bob knows what he’s doing. If you are interested in entering, please click this link to visit Beadie’s site and enter. The contest ends Tuesday.

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