Tag Archives: Cupcakes

Little Brown Box

What do you think is in this little brown box? 

Little Brown BoxIf you want a hint, just check out this earlier post. As for the specifics– I’ll get to that in a minute! 🙂

First of all, I have to say that I’ve done a pretty good job of healthy eating this week. Usually, when I’m in vacation mode (mine or my parents’…) I tend to eat waaaaay more than I should. My parents arrived on Saturday, and I’ve had some treats but not gone completely bonkers. That’s something I’m proud of! I’ve found a decent balance this week. 🙂 Woo hoo!

Yesterday’s little indulgence came in the form of a trip to The Pita House in Old Town Alexandria. I’d been once before, and I remembered how good it was. We weren’t looking to have a heavy lunch, and this was perfect. First, we started off with an appetizer:

Fool M'DammasWe shared a bowl of Fool M’Dammas, which is simmered chick peas and fava beans flavored with garlic and lemon juice topped with olive oil. We had some delicious warm pita bread to go along with it. 

Then, we each got some sort of sandwich and shared a plate of fries.

The Pita House

I ate my share of fries for sure. I think it’s funny that “back in the day,” before I started really paying attention to what I was eating, I would have shnarfed down some fries without thinking too much about them. Now, I have them so rarely, that they really are a treat. I’m happy that I’ve moved them into the appropriate category– “treat”!  Along with the fries, I had chicken shawarma, my dad had beef shawarma, and my mom had a very tasty chicken and cheese combo. Delish!

Lunch was lovely, and then we just sort of strolled our way up King Street popping into random little stores here and there. I had planned to get a cupcake at a nearby cupcake place, but realized I was too full so I decided against it. Progress!

I was still thinking about cupcakes today (… not unusual really… I do love cupcakes…), and I decided that, while I was at Tangy Sweet with my friend, G,  during lunch, I’d pop over next door to Red Velvet and get a little box of treats to bring home and share with my parents. G and I split an amazing peanut butter cup cupcake while we were there, but I forgot my camera so I can’t show you a photo. Trust me when I tell you that it was quite good! 

I can, however, tease you with this one:

Carrot Cake!Before I tell you all about the rest of the tasties in the box, let me show you the much more virtuous dinner we enjoyed before we got to the sweets. 

Din DinI grilled some green and yellow zucchini and an eggplant on the Griddler, with cooking spray, salt and pepper, and piled them up on a platter. Then, I grilled some sundried tomato and basil chicken sausages and tossed them on top. I added some roasted red peppers, for a bit of color, and my mom snipped a little sprig of basil for a garnish.

Pretty PlatterI love all the pretty colors, and I love the flavor that grilling gives to these humble veggies. If you are on Weight Watchers, I have to tell you that this kind of meal was a common one for me when I was counting points. It’s a great and filling low point meal– and it’s beautiful too! I drizzled a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top of my veggies. I love them that way!

I also toasted up the last two pieces of Trader Joe’s naan from the freezer, topped them with bruschetta sauce and smoked mozzarella, and then popped them under the broiler. Smoked mozzarella might be one of the best foods ever!! 🙂

Cheesy BreadAfter dinner, it was time to open our little brown box. Here’s what was inside:

Cupcake QuartetThe obvious chocolate one is called “b-day” and the website describes it as American yellow butter cake and milk chocolate ganache. In the bottom corner, we have “summertime,” which is a lemon cake with coconut frosting. The next cupcake, moving counterclockwise, is a carrot cake cupcake. They don’t describe it on the website, but I can attest to the fact that this is a pretty classic carrot cake. Finally, there is “key west,” in the top corner, which is a key lime cake topped with white chocolate buttercream.

We had a whole quartet of cupcakes to sample, and we decided to make a little contest out of it. We split each cupcake into thirds, and had a tasting party! My dad and I polished off each section as we went, but my mother kept a little nibble of each so that she could do a more proper job of judging. She was thorough when it came to the frosting. She took her duty seriously!

Serious JudgingLuckily, I didn’t need to taste any of them a second time. My number one choice was a very easy one to make! My mom decided pretty quickly too. My dad, well, he said that they were all good. We tried to get him to pick a favorite, but  he resisted until the very end. I’d say that his desert island cupcake choice would be a magical cupcake with carrot cake, lime cake, lemon cake and b-day cake sections in each one. Come to think of it, that might be a pretty smart way to go!

If my mother and I found ourselves stranded on the proverbial desert island and could only have one cupcake (although, I would prefer a dessert island if given the choice…), we would choose…. drum roll please…

The Champ!“Summertime”

The cake was dense and moist with a lovely citrusy tang, and the icing was rich and sweet. I like just about anything that includes coconut, and this cupcake did not disappoint. It really did taste like summertime. Not only is it my favorite of the four we sampled this evening, I’d say that it beats the peanut butter cup, red velvet, and vanilla bean cupcakes I’ve tried from Red Velvet too. 

Now, of course, I need to figure out the best way to make a healthier version of this little gem. 🙂

So, that’s what we’ve been up to the last couple of days. Tonight, we whipped up a batch of a summery frozen treat, but I’m going to save that for my next post. I hope you are having a great week, and that you’ve enjoyed a special treat and lots of healthy eats today too. 🙂 Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Cake, D.C., Food, Washington, Weight Watchers

We Need to Get Caught Up!

Red VelvetCome on in! It’s nice to see you. It’s been awhile. 🙂 I’ve been a bad blogger this weekend. I got home on Friday night after another busy day, and all I wanted to do was crash on the couch and watch one of the Netflix movies collecting dust on top of the television. I took photos of my food all day, but I decided I needed to just relax and stay away from the computer for a bit. Instead of blogging, I watched “Juliet of the Spirits,” put my feet up, and kicked it. Yesterday was just busy! I hope you understand. 🙂

Now, are you wondering what Red Velvet is? Here’s a hint:

I Saw the SignIt would be a long post if I showed you everything I’ve eaten this weekend, so I’m just going to tell you about cupcakes, fro yo, shortcakes (with a recipe) and a few other things sprinkled in as a garnish. Yum! Some garnishes are tasty!

Friday:

Friday was a busy day at work. I wrapped up a few things, which is always good on a Friday, and I was ready to celebrate the start of the weekend with a special treat. My law school friend, Mr. M, works in an office close to mine, and he agreed to meet me for some frozen yogurt at Tangy Sweet after work. You might recall that I tried Tangy Sweet’s fro yo right before I went on vacation. I really couldn’t wait to go back!

The flavor du jour was chocolate. Chocolate isn’t usually my choice when it comes to ice cream flavors, but I tried a little sample. As it melted on my tongue, I realized that it tasted a bit like chocolate cheesecake. I decided to have a cup of it with some fresh strawberries on top.

Fro Yo!Check out the rain. There was a serious gully washer outside! I braved the weather just for you! 😉

This was gooooood!! I’m still kind of amazed at the way Tangy Sweet’s fro yo doesn’t taste very sweet during the first few bites, but then the flavor transforms and becomes sweet as the tang fades away. It’s like magic– tasty, tasty magic! 🙂 

Speaking of magic, cupcakes are one of the foods I consider to be the most magical. They are adorable, delicious, and they hearken back to childhood fun in a very lovely way. Red Velvet is a “cupcakery” next door to Tangy Sweet. If you are in the area and are interested, both places are at 7th and E in Penn Quarter. Here is a glimpse of the cupcake case:

Cupcakes!On my previous fro yo excursion, I stuck my nose in the door at Red Velvet, but I didn’t make any purchases. This Friday, I decided to get a couple of little cupcakes and take them for a spin. I was hoping to find a cupcake to rival the one I recently had at Sugar Mama’s in Skagway, Alaska. Those were SO good!!

Here’s another peek in the case at Red Velvet:

CupcakesThe cupcakes I chose were called “Southern Belle” and “Vanilla Bean.” Southern Belle was a traditional red velvet cupcake topped with a whipped cream cheese icing. Vanilla bean was a vanilla bean cake topped with a Madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting. 

Yum one and Yum twoMr. M was kind enough to agree to split each cupcake with me, so I had half of each. What a nice guy! I know it was a sacrifice. 🙂 While it would be hard to fit two whole cupcakes into a day of healthy eating, two halves work out just fine! Yes, I love cupcakes, and NO, I don’t plan to ever make them off limits. I’d rather figure out how to work them in with my nutritious eats so that I can… yep… “have my cake and eat it too.”  That’s a balance worth striking!

Check out the thickness of the frosting!

Aaaaahhhh!Southern Belle’s cake was delightfully moist, dense and rich. The beautiful color was matched by a beautiful flavor. I loved the cake! As for the icing, well, I don’t think I prefer my cream cheese icing whipped. It was good, but I like my frosting to be thicker and a bit more solid. That’s my personal preference, and I’m sure plenty of people prefer it whipped and gooey. If that describes your preference, this is the cupcake for you! 

Vanilla Bean was my favorite of the two. I love vanilla cupcakes, and this cake was moist and sweet with a nice, strong vanilla flavor. I think that I was expecting buttercream (note: read signs more closely!!), so I was surprised when I first bit into the frosting. It wasn’t the buttercream I was craving after my Alaskan cupcake, but I really liked it nonetheless. The vanilla flavor came on strong, and it really was a great cupcake.

I still haven’t found my DC Sugar Mama’s, but I’m looking. 🙂 Since Red Velvet is close to work, I foresee more samples in my future. I need to try their buttercream for sure! 

When I got home, I had a bowl of sauteed spinach, broccoli and smoked tofu. I liked having dessert first! Later, while lounging around watching my movie, I decided to open up this little bag and take these barbecue flavored Pop Chips for a whirl.

Pop ChipsI’ve wanted to try these for a while, but I hate buying big bags of chips. Since I don’t tend to choose salty snacks very often, a big bag of chips often goes stale before I get around to eating them. I was excited to find a single serving bag of these in a nearby deli, and they seemed perfect for movie munching. I really liked them. They were barbecue sauce sweet and deliciously salty at the same time. Perfect! The texture is much more like regular chips than the baked chips I’ve tried, and they aren’t made with any weird Olean type chemcials. I’m sold. These are good! If you find them where you are, give them a shot!

My other movie watching snack was a tiny bowl of chocolate chip cookie oat bran.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oat Bran

I made half a serving of oat bran, added a bit of vanilla extract and some brown sugar to the bowl, and then topped it with chopped almonds and mini semi-sweet morsels. It was a good way to satisfy a craving for something sweet without having another real dessert. Since I’d already had the fro yo and the cupcakes before dinner, I thought I’d dial things back a bit. I’m doing my best to keep my sweet tooth in check, while still enjoying plenty of treats. This is an example of my attempt to balance things out a bit!

Saturday:

Saturday morning, I woke up to find the sun shining and a nice breeze blowing through my balcony door. It was going to be a great trip to the farmer’s market for sure! I got ready, and headed to the market armed with my reusable shopping bags, some cash, and my camera. I missed the market last Saturday. I knew that the Westmoreland Berry Farms people had been there with strawberries for sale because A Daunting Tale of Scale Warfare was at the Courthouse market last Saturday, and she featured a photo of her haul (including the berries) in her post. Grrrr!!! I was so sad to have missed the berries… and so jealous! 🙂 Luckily, there were plenty of berries waiting for me this Saturday!

BerryliciousI made up for missing the market last weekend by buying a ton of things today. I got two big containers of the berries along with: garlic scapes, radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, Greek yogurt, low-fat ricotta sweetened with honey and vanilla, eggs and an oregano plant.

If you haven’t heard of garlic scapes (they are the green things curled around the eggs), I’ll be posting one of my favorite scape recipes soon! I’ll tell you all about them then.

The BootyIt was quite a haul! When I started looking at all of the berries, I realized that I might have gotten a bit carried away. While freezing the berries was a definite option, a phone call from my friend, Inga’s mom, led me to a better plan. Remember the lovely Inga? My favorite dog friend?

Inga DingaInga’s parents were going to fire up the grill, and I promised to bring over some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I also promised to bring Inga her present from Alaska. 

Hello, Squeaky Moose!Hello, Mr. Squeaky Moose! I think he knew he was doomed, so he was lying on his back in defeat.

Chewy!Mmm…. chewy! I didn’t expect for this flimsy little moose to have a long life, and she had already de-squeaked him by the time I headed home last night! I’m so glad that she had fun with him, and that Mr. Squeaky Moose will no longer be squeaky. I felt like the aunt who gave her niece a noisy drum set for Christmas. Hee hee! 

I mentioned shortcake. Here’s the finished dish:

Strawberry ShortcakeWhen I started looking for a lightened up shortcake recipe, I found a ton to choose from. None of them were exactly what I wanted, so I sort of combined ideas from several in order to come up with my version. Here’s my recipe:

Sweetie’s Olive Oil Shortcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups of all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup egg beaters (or one egg)

2 tsp. Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar–  for sprinkling on top)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. I used a silpat, and I sprayed it with cooking spray as well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, vanilla, egg and oil. 

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. Turn the dough out on to the baking sheet. Spray the top with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to your fingers, and use your hands to shape the dough into an 8×8 square. Then, using a sharp knife, cut into but not through the dough, dividing it into 16 squares. Give it another spritz with cooking spray and then sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over the top.

BeforeBake for 15 minutes or until golden. 

After

Cut along the lines to separate the cakes, and then top with sweetened berries and the whipped topping of your choice.

This makes 8 servings with 2 squares per person.

I liked these, but I think the shortcakes would have been yummier if they had been warm when I served them. Since they are lower in fat, they got a little bit chewy when they cooled. I also underestimated the amount of berries we needed, and I would have liked a few more berries and a little more juice on my shortcake.

I quartered 1 1/4 pounds of berries, and added the juice of half a lime as well as 2 tsp. of sugar. There were only six people at dinner, and we ate all of the berries. Next time I make shortcake for eight, I think I’ll probably prepare at least 2 pounds of berries– maybe more. You can never have enough berry goodness!

I’m kind of happy that I had a couple of cakes leftover. I already put one to good use today in a big bowl of berry jam sweetened Greek yogurt and berries:

Yum!I like having a shortcake recipe up my sleeve because you can top them with so many different things. Summer fruits are the obvious choice, but not the only good one! I’m so glad I was able to share my haul with my friends, and I had a great time hanging out at their place– as usual! 

So, now you are pretty much caught up– cupcakes, fro yo, berries, farmers market shopping and Inga. Those are definitely the highlights of my weekend so far. I need to say Ciao and go and run some errands before what’s left of the weekend evaporates! I hope you have a great week, and I can’t wait to share my garlic scape recipe with you soon!! Ciao for now, bloggies. 🙂

What was the best thing you ate this weekend??

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Filed under Baking, Cake, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Alaskan Cupcake Gold, Hungry Animals and the Nats

Get ready for a grab bag of a post! It’s a bit here and there, just like I have been myself!

While walking past an ice cream store in Skagway, Alaska (and considering whether or not to make an ice cream stop…), my friend and I heard this conversation between a mother and child leaving the store. The kiddo had ice cream:

Kiddo: Mom, why didn’t you get ice cream?

Mom: Because I want a cupcake from Sugar Mamas.

What’s that? A cupcake? Yes please! I did what any good cupcake hound would do and tailed them down the block and around the corner. I was rewarded with this sight:

Sugar MamaInside this adorable pink store, my friend and I were treated to a selection of luscious looking cupcakes as well as some fun little treats for sale and a very friendly dog. I believe his name was Carlos. The pup took the time to ask my friend to toss his stick back and forth. I should have snapped his photo, but I have this one for you instead:

Lovely!Look at the icing!! You may be able to read some of tags in the case. There were carrot cake cupcakes, fresh strawberry cupcakes with sprinkles, and several other kinds. It was NOT an easy choice, and I wish I had gotten a few to try later after I realized how great they really were. We both chose the Not So Plain Jane white chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting, and it was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. This icing was buttery and sweet without being overly greasy and heavy (I hate greasy buttercream!!), and the cake was perfectly moist and sweet. I’m so happy that I was eavesdropping at just the right time. 😉 If the carrot cake had been equally as good, which I suspect would have been the case, I might not have gotten back on the boat!!

Now that you’ve had a little dose of Alaska (and you can expect some more for a few days more…), let me tell you about the Saturday I spent playing tourist in my own backyard. Of course, when you live just across the river from NW Washington, D.C., it’s pretty easy to find plenty of things to do.

A friend of mine, we’ll call him Mr. T, got a big new lens for his camera, and he thought the National Zoo would be a good place to try it out. I don’t love the zoo, typically. I especially dislike the apes. The way they stare back gives me the creeps! Primate issues aside, the weather was nice and the idea of walking around with good company for an afternoon sounded pretty good to me. Off I went! 

I took a ton of photos, but I’ll just share a few. Since this is a food blog, here are Tian Tian’s eats for the day. 

BambooliciousMmm… bamboo. I will spare you a photo of the Magpie’s eats for the day. Watching him chow down on dead mouse was pretty disgusting, but to each his own. Here is an elephant munching on some grindage (points if you remember that movie…) with me in the foreground. I think my diet might closely resemble the elephant’s!

Elephant DinnerThis tiger was just lounging in the shade, which is what I felt like doing after walking around all afternoon!

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright...I think these flamingos needed a snack. They seemed to be having some issues, and the vibe was NOT a happy one… Low blood sugar?

Fighting FlamingosIt was such a nice day to be out and about, and I can’t wait to see the photos Mr. T took! I’m sure to be quite jealous of his new gadget!! The weather was so nice that we decided to go and catch a National’s game after the zoo. 

NatsThere was a pretty big crowd for a Nats game since the Nats were playing the Baltimore Orioles. There were lots of O’s fans in town for the game, and there was a lot of orange in the stands. Unfortunately, the Nats did not win 😦 , but we had a great time anyway! I’m not a big sports fan, but I do like going to baseball games. There’s just something about it! Usually, I pack healthy snacks before going to the ballpark, but since it was a spontaneous decision, all I had left in my bag was a little package of dried apple snacks. Those would certainly not do as dinner and wouldn’t even fill me up as a snack. What to eat? Well, here’s what I came up with:

Ben's ChiliBen’s Chili Bowl is a Washington, D.C. institution, and their chili is really great. It’s nice and spicy with lots of juicy beef and plump beans. I have found that chili can be a pretty healthy choice, and it seemed like a better option than many of the other choices at the park. As much as I would have loved a big boat of French fries underneath my chili, I just got mine in a bowl with a bit of nacho cheese sauce and some chopped onions on top. I added a bit of yellow mustard, because I kind of like that in my chili sometimes. Anyone else do that? Is it just me? 

Of course, I needed dessert. There were tons of ice cream options, but Cracker Jack seemed like a better choice. It also didn’t hurt that the nutritional information was on the side of the bag so I didn’t have to guess at the number of calories I was about to eat. I appreciate knowing things like that most of the time! This whole bag (3 servings) was 350 calories. 🙂 I was a happy– and full girl!!

Cracker JackI would have photographed my prize, but it was so LAME! I miss the lick and stick tattoos and the games with tiny plastic ping pong balls in a maze. My prize was disappointing, but at least my Jacks were good. 🙂 I wanted something else, but managed to settle for a camera shy fountain Coke Zero. I’m not much of a diet soda drinker at all, but I like Coke Zero. Since I rarely see it as a fountain drink option, I decided to go for it. What is your favorite stadium food– healthy or… not? I do love a good hot dog, and the new stadium has Five Guys burgers, which are always an enjoyable treat. 

Saturday was such a nice day! I managed to keep my eating on track while staying in motion. I worked out in the gym on Saturday morning, and followed that up with several hours of walking around. It was definitely the sort of active day I needed during my “cruise recovery” program. 🙂  As for my Sunday, well, it has been a pretty laid back day. I still need to go to the grocery store, so I haven’t really done much cooking. I did make a sweet little treat that I wanted to mention: Chocolate covered bananas!

First, I peeled two bananas, sliced them in half, inserted some skewers, and put them on a plate covered with waxed paper:

Pre-FreezeI popped the plate in the freezer to let the bananas firm up for about three hours. Then, I melted 3 ounces of 77% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs (yummy), in the microwave in a small pyrex measuring cup:

Melted ChocolateI used to use the double boiler method whenever I melted chocolate, but, unless I’m making something super fancy, I think the microwave method works just fine! I’d say that you need about 1 1/2 ounces of chocolate per whole banana. Put the chocolate in a microwave safe dish and zap it for 30 seconds. Take it out, stir it, and zap it for 30 seconds more. Repeat this until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Then, dip the bananas. I decided I needed to use a rubber spatula to make sure I got the chocolate all over the bananas. After they were coated, I put them all back on the plate and popped them back in the freezer. You can see that the chocolate was already pretty much hardened up even before the second freeze:

Chocolate Covered BananasYou can see the bumpy little nibs too. Yum! Theoretically, these should stay in the freezer for awhile to allow the banana to re-freeze after being dipped in the hot chocolate. Realistically, I decided that 10 minutes was long enough!

Yum!I considered dipping these in nuts right after they took a swim in the chocolate, but the cocoa nibs in this chocolate bar gave it a crunch so I decided I didn’t need anything more. These are so easy, and quick. I’m not sure why I never made my own! I’ve seen some pricey ones in the freezer section at my Whole Foods, and those just seem extra silly now that I know how easy they are to make. Plus, I get to pick the chocolate I want. 🙂 

That’s the scoop on my weekend, and I’m so happy to have a bonus day off. I need another day like today to get things back in order after my trip, and I’m happy to be able to sleep late too!

Before I go, Christina made a batch of my cabbage nests and topped them with, get this, GRAVY! Genius! I’m so flattered, and so glad that other people are enjoying my recipe. 🙂 This really is a versatile recipe. Remember my barbecued chicken pizza nests? How about when I topped a nest with a fried egg? I feel like the possibilities are endless!

Now that I’ve got you all caught up, I’m off to bed with a book, Underworld by Don Delillo, that I’ve really been enjoying. Since I don’t have to work tomorrow, I may stay up late with my book. I love when I’m able to do that! Ciao for now, and I hope everyone has a lovely Monday.

Happy Memorial Day!!

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Filed under Alaska, Bananas, Chocolate, D.C., Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss

Colorful Swiss Chard and Four Sweet Angels

Colorful Swiss Chard

I can’t believe that the weekend is already half over! I’ve had a good one so far, but it has been a bit busy. As a result, I spent plenty of time cooking yesterday, but I have yet to tell you what I made. To make up for my tardiness, I have two really great recipes to share today. Then… I need to get busy making my “big batch” food for this week! I also need to remind you that today is the last day to submit your entries for this week’s BSI. If you haven’t checked out all of the awesome black bean recipes that have been submitted so far, you can do that by scrolling to the bottom of the post at this link. I’m very excited about all of the great dishes!

A friend of mine came over for dinner and a movie last night. This friend is usually pretty game to try out my healthy fare, and last night was no exception. I had some beautiful Swiss chard from last week’s Merry Produce Wednesday box, and I wanted to build a dish around that. I love goat cheese or blue cheese along with chard. There is something about the combination of the slightly tangy cheese with the earthy flavor of the chard that I just really love. I also love how pretty the chard is. As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, there are bright flashes of color amidst the green. It almost seems like something out of Dr. Seuss! It is really good for you, and very delicious in addition to being beautiful. Perfect! Here’s the recipe for the dish that we enjoyed last night. It was an easy one, and one that can be done in little more than the time it takes to boil the pasta!

Just Sweet Enough Swiss Chard Pasta Toss

Just Sweet Enough Swiss Chard Pasta Toss

Ingredients:

2 ounces of uncooked rotini (I used Barilla Plus in calculating points)

Water and salt (for boiling the pasta)

Nonstick Cooking Spray

1 Link of Hot Lean Italian Turkey Sausage

1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 pound of Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leafy parts chopped 

1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

3 Tbsp. soft type goat cheese

Directions:

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is cooked to your satisfaction, immediately drain it and set it aside. 

While the pasta is cooking, spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place it over medium high heat. Brown the turkey sausage in the skillet, chopping it into small bits as it cooks. When the sausage is browned, add the chickpeas to the skillet and cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the sausage and chickpeas from the skillet.

Spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray again, and place it on the stove at medium high heat. You could use olive oil, of course, but I was trying to save a point or two. I find that nonstick cooking spray works just fine. Add the Swiss chard to the skillet in batches until it all fits, stirring frequently. Add the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Allow the chard to wilt down and become tender. This will probably take four or five minutes, but you will know it is ready when it looks wilted, and has shrunk quite a bit in size.

When the chard is nicely wilted, add the sausage and garbanzo beans back to the skillet along with pasta and give it  stir. Heat through for about one minute.

Divide the mixture into two serving bowls, top each with half of the goat cheese, then sprinkle half of the pine nuts on top of each bowl. Enjoy!!

This makes 2 servings at 7 unofficial WW points each.

Lovely ChardI was very happy with this dish. There are so many flavors and textures at play, and I think they work together quite well. I also think that it is a good example of a dish where I used higher points value ingredients more sparingly (the pasta, sausage and pine nuts), and mixed them in with some lower points items (the chard, chickpeas and goat cheese) in a way that let me enjoy some of my favorite flavors, while having a filling dinner at the same time. I also think you can’t go wrong with toasted garbanzo beans, toasted pine nuts and goat cheese. Yum!

Dinner was really good, but I was most excited about dessert! Not surprising, right? After last week’s pavlovas, I was itching to make another favorite that involves nice fluffy egg whites– angel food cake. As usual, I was concerned about finding myself with an entire cake sitting on the cabinet that needed to be eaten, frozen or given away. I really don’t worry that I’m going to eat the whole cake myself. I’m careful with my daily points, and that isn’t much of a problem for me. I just hate getting to “Angel Food Cake: Day 12” and having some really old cake that I hate to waste, but that isn’t really worth eating.

I decided to see if I could make a very small batch of angel food cake batter and bake them up cupcake style. I’m SO happy! I looked at a few different recipes on-line to get an idea of the basic cake ingredients, did some math, and tweaked things a bit. I ended up making a batch of nice fluffy angel food cupcakes, and my recipe just makes four!! I’m happy to report that, after last night’s dinner and movie watching, there were no survivors.

You might think it seems like a lot of trouble to go to for four cupcakes. You could certainly double, triple or quadruple the recipe if that’s the case. I find that my daily eating can’t keep up with my love of cooking so I don’t mind making small batches like this if it means that I get to avoid “Angel Food Cake: Day 12” and enjoy some quality time with my Kitchen-aid. I think fresh baked goods are the best! So, without further adieu, I give you:

Sweet Angel

Just Sweet Enough Angels with Strawberries on Top

Ingredients For the Cupcakes:

1/4 cup cake flour

4 Tbsp. powdered sugar

3 egg whites at room temperature

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 of a vanilla bean

3 Tbsp. sugar

Ingredients for the Glaze:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. butter, melted

4 strawberries, cleaned and chopped

Directions for the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place four paper cupcake wrappers on a baking sheet and set aside.

2.  Sift the cake flour and powdered sugar together into a bowl and set aside.

3. Beat the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, and the seeds scraped from the inside of the vanilla bean at high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

4. At the soft peak stage, continue beating the egg white mixture while adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the mixture becomes firm and glossy.

5. Sift about half of the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold the flour in using a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour. Of course, it is important to be gentle in order to keep as much air as possible in the egg whites. 

6. This was the really fun part! Scoop the mixture into the four cupcake cups, and continue piling the batter on until it has been fairly evenly divided them. They are going to be very tall, and you may feel as though you are operating the soft serve machine at Dairy Queen. Trust me on this one.

7. Place the cupcakes in the oven and bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cakes are golden on top and spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. 

8. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. 

Directions for the glaze:

Place the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and use a fork to mash them well. Then, sift the powdered sugar on to the berries, add the melted butter and stir it well. Divide the glaze among the four cooled cupcakes and allow it to set for 5-10 minutes. 

This makes 4 cupcakes at 3 unofficial Weight Watcher points each. 

Here are a few photos from the process. This is a picture of the batter piled up on top of the cupcake cups. It may look precarious, but it will work out just fine! It did make me hungry for soft serve. I love the little black flecks of vanilla bean!! So sweet!

Before the baking:

Soft Serve?

After…
After

Here are some before and after berry photos from the glaze making:

Beautiful Berries

Berry MashedOne more…

Glazed OverI thinned my glaze with a little orange juice this time, and it got a bit too thin. I think that it would have been fine without any extra liquid, so I’m not recommending that you add any. I just thought I should explain in case you find yourself with a thicker glaze than what you see in the photos. That’s a good thing if you do! 

I’m so excited about the cupcakes, and I’m already thinking of all sorts of variations that I can make in the future. Yum! There were just enough sweet little angels to satisfy my sweet tooth and my love of baking without leaving me with endless leftovers!! Yay!!

Before I go, I have a few contests to tell you about, including the one I’m hosting to celebrate my 50th post. If you are interested in entering to win some yummy snacks previously featured in my Friday weigh-in/snack posts, please go to the this link and follow the directions. Good luck!!

In addition, you should check out all of these great contests:

Jessica is giving away a very cute Kath Eat’s (KERF) t-shirt at Johnstone’s Vin Blanc

Lindsay is giving away some very awesome prizes (but you only have until 6 p.m. today to enter) at For the Love of Oats

Michelle is giving away Barney Butter (which I’ve been dying to try… don’t enter… I want to win!) at Lucky Taste Buds

and

Katie is giving away a whole BOX of Jocolat bars at Chocolate-Covered Katie

I’m going to get busy on this week’s “big batch” now, and I hope to tell you about it tomorrow. I think that carrots are going to be my featured ingredient, but we’ll see. Have a lovely Sunday!!

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