Decorating my plate one meal at a time


French Dip “cupcakes”.

French Dip Cupcakes and asparagus

I made another dish today that I found on Pinterest.  Another really good dish.  I’m not going to type it all out, because I didn’t really make any catastrophic changes to it, so go Emily Bites to find the recipe.

She has this listed as an appetizer, but we made it as a meal.  We used a combination of Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh roast beef and Carving Board roast beef because that was what we had in the fridge and freezer.  I prefer the Deli Fresh, but Mom likes the Carving Board better for this recipe.  We both think the CB is more salty, and I believe, stats-wise, the DF is a better choice.

The recipe states to chop up the Laughing Cow wedges.  Don’t bother.  It’s soft to begin with, so dump the whole wedge into the microwave bowl and smash it up a bit with the spoon as you mix everything together.  Once you’ve nuked the whole works and give it another good stir most of it will have liquified.  There might be some little chunks, but don’t stress over it, they’ll melt out in the oven.

Mom and I are both kitchen gadget geeks and I discovered one in her kitchen that I do not have that was seriously useful in making both this recipe and the Chicken Pot Pie Bundles.  The Pampered Chef Mini Tart Shaper may not seem like much, and you can probably live without it if you’re not a kitchen junkie, but it made pressing the wonton wrappers into the cups without sticking my (long, fake) fingernails through them much much easier.   You could probably use a small rubber spatula or the bottom of a juice glass if you also have problem nails.

Once we had the wrappers pressed in, I made note of how much went into each layer, because I dislike it when the directions say “portion half the mixture in 12 cups”.  Crap.  I’m going to run out.   I’m going to use too much and not have enough left for the top layer, or use too little and have too much left.  Anyway, I used about a tablespoon of the meat/cheese/au jus mixture per cup, per layer.   I wasn’t smart enough to do the same for the mozzarella cheese, but we did measure out a half cup per layer which made it easier to portion.

These turned out beautifully!  The smelled great, looked pretty and tasted so good I almost licked my plate clean.  We served up 2 “cupcakes” with a side of asparagus and it was the perfect amount.  I left the table feeling completely satisfied.

So, I give this recipe a thumbs up, who doesn’t like meat and cupcakes in the same sentence?

Just mush the cheese up with the spoon, don't bother chopping.

After microwaving and stirring

All ready for the oven! 20 minutes until dinner.


Chicken Pot Pie Bundles.

I found this recipe while surfing Pinterest, the new time-sucking website of choice.  You can find the original recipe here.  I made a few minor changes.  While I have tried to make this blog simply about healthy eating, I have to be honest, I’m trying to lose an ambitious goal of 111 pounds.  I’ve lost 51 so far in 31 weeks by following Weight Watchers.   Not everyone needs to lose weight, but everyone needs to eat healthy, so I try to keep the weight loss message to a minimum.  What I’m trying to say is that I make adjustments to recipes to make them fit more within my own needs, if you want to make this using the original recipe, go for it!  I don’t claim to author any of  the recipes I use and I always try to give credit where credit is due.

Ok, with that out of the way, I am very excited to share this recipe.  It was so good!!

You will need:

  • cooking spray

    Chop chop chop

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Carrots, Chopped
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup cooked frozen green peas
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 12 egg roll wrappers
  • 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • butter spray (like I can’t believe it’s not butter)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray large nonstick skillet , heat over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in the chicken, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Place the broth and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Add to the skillet along with the peas and corn, and bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue to simmer and stir gently until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

To prepare the bundles, use a muffin pan with 12 medium-size cups (do not coat with nonstick cooking spray). Gently place 1 egg roll wrap into each cup, letting it extend over the sides. Place a generous 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture into each wrap, and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese (a little less than a 1/4 tsp each) on top.

Fold the corners up and over the top of the filling and press to seal the edges – try wetting your fingers with a little water to help the seal (it doesnt have to be perfect!).

Lightly spray top of each bundle with a little spray or butter substitute spray (I can’t belive it’s not butter).

Bake until golden and crisp,14 to 18 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.

And now: Photopalooza:

Using a wet finger to seal up the bundles

Spritzing the tops may or may not help them brown. Your mileage may vary.

Lets EAT!

A litte of my history…

Mom and I were looking through old photos over supper tonight.  We noticed a bit of a theme.
I started out eating healty. Then I discovered the kitchen. Nothing like getting to help make your own 2nd birthday cake. I always loved to lick the beaters!

What are you having for lunch today?

I just wanted to post a little reminder (mostly to myself) that eating healthy doesn’t always mean cooking.

Quick student lunch during finals- Aleve optional.

This is what I had during finals week (back in December).  It was a simple as throwing a Lean Pocket into the microwave and pouring an ounce of PopChips.   Fast and easy.   Just remember to look at the stats before you toss the box in your grocery cart- not all Lean Pockets are as healthy as some of the others.  I really enjoy the pretzel bread ones, the Grilled Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar pocket has a little kick, but it is on the high side for stats with 9 grams of fat and only 1 gram of fiber.  Its still in the range I look for, but it’s on the top end of it.  The Breakfast Quesadilla is also really good.  The Pop Chips also come in several flavors, BBQ is my favorite- but all the flavors I’ve tried are great. Now if only I could find the sweet potato flavor!

Don’t think that this means I won’t be posting recipes, because I have a few of them lined up to try this week, and I’m pretty excited about the ones I’ve picked, so check back in a few days and see how they turned out.

Back on the wagon?

I know, I know, it’s been two months since I last posted.  I got swept up in a tidal wave of holiday apathy and just… couldn’t.   I couldn’t care about cooking, or writing, or eating healthy.    I gained a few pounds, but I lost them and more right after the new year… and then I gained a couple back again.  So, it’s time for me to get back on the wagon and start cooking, eating and THINKING healthy again.

To start things off right, Mom and I made a meal plan, a grocery list and a grocery excursion this evening.  After we returned home with our load of mostly produce, we set to chopping and prepping for several meals and snacks.

While I was chopping veggies for tonight’s snack, I went ahead and prepped a few extra so all I need to do is open the fridge and grab.  This usually makes all the difference for me.  If I look in the fridge and see a pile of veggies I would need to prep or a ready-to-grab sugar free pudding cup, I’m probably going to go for the fast and easy sweet chocolatey goodness.   As choices go, that wouldn’t be the worst, but I really should be eating more veggies and less pre-packaged snacks.

I also whipped up a batch of my new favorite dip.  Fast, easy and flavor packed!  The dip is a really simple creation of mine:  1 cup fat free (or low fat) cottage cheese and about 1 table spoon of Two Sisters Gourmet Outrageously Garlic blend and a half teaspoon of Penzey’s Mural of Flavor.  I throw the whole works in my mini food processor and pulse until its smooth-ish.  Cottage cheese will never get completely smooth, so don’t burn out the motor trying.

You could also make this with dried minced onion and garlic or other seasonings, I just used what I have on hand.    This dip is great on raw veggies, baked potatoes and veggie chips or straws.  I usually keep myself to a 1/2 cup portion or less.

So now that I’m back on the healthy-eating wagon, I’m also hoping to catch up with the write-about-your-food wagon.

I’ve been surfing Pinterest, making a list of recipes I want to try and I’ve talked Mom into trying THREE of them this week, plus we’re experimenting with a recipe in her collection, if it turns out particularly tasty, you’ll see it here.

If its a dismal flop, you probably won’t.

Portion! Portion! Portion!

Open faced turkey sandwich

Open faced turkey sandwich or as we call it in MN, turkey commercial.

For me, this is the standard day after Thanksgiving meal.  Simple, tasty and fast.  Dig the leftovers out of the fridge and pile them together, that’s it!  The main thing I’ve done to keep this healthy is to limit the portions.

1 slice of low-cal bread. My favorite is Sara Lee 45 and delightful.

1/2 cup of mashed potatoes. We make ours with skim or 1% milk, Brummel & Brown spread and plenty of Mrs. Dash seasoning.

1/4 cup gravy.  I make my own gravy, but honestly, there are a lot of low-fat jarred gravies out there.

2 oz chopped turkey. White meat is better, but I usually end up using a little dark meat because the white is the first to go around here.

That’s all there is to it, so you’ll be able to get back to untangling those holiday lights and finding your ornament hooks in no time.

By the way – are you planning your Turkey Day meal??  Check out Food Network’s website, which is totally devoted to the bird and all its trimmings right now, including a whole special on leftovers.   I’m not saying that all the recipes are healthy, but there are some healthy options.  For the holidays, I plan on eating small portions of my favorites, even if they’re not low-fat/carb/cal.  For example:  To me, it is not Christmas morning without Chocolate Crinkles and milk…  So, I will limit myself to one (or two) and I won’t feel deprived.  I know the main reason I have fallen off the healthy-eating wagon in the past is because I felt like I couldn’t have any of the things I enjoyed.  This way, I get to eat what I want, in moderation, and I won’t feel like I’m missing out.

Portion! Portion! Portion! It’s my new holiday mantra.

Aunt Carol’s “All Purpose Salad Dressing”

In my family, I have two people I go to if I want a tried and true recipe: Mom, and her sister Carol.  Mom has most of the recipes out of Gramma’s recipe box; many of those recipes are, for me, a memory on a plate.   Carol has many of those and interesting things I’ve never even thought to Google.  If I called her on any given day and said “I have chicken, goat cheese, and beets” she’d be the only person I know likely answer “I have 3 recipes that call for that, hang on, let me find them!”

The recipe I’m sharing today is one of Carol’s that Mom got from her and I quickly adopted.  I split a batch of this with Mom and each of us keeps a jar in our fridge for last minute meals.   Make this up now, it keeps next to forever, and you’ll want it around next weekend.

“All Purpose Salad Dressing”
  • 1 Quart Fat Free Miracle Whip
  • 1/4 Cup sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1/4 Cup vinegar
  • 1/4 Jar of sweet pickle relish

Last week Mom and I were found, yet again, staring into the refrigerator, waiting for dinner to jump out and fix itself.  These are sort of my favorite types of meals, because there aren’t hours of planning and shopping involved and it makes us get creative with what is around the house. About two ounces of turkey, 9 grapes, half a small apple and 5 cashews fished out of the can of mixed nuts ended up on the cutting board.

Turkey Salad, ready for bread...

A little of this, a little of that...

Mom chopped up the apple and turkey into small pieces and cut the grapes in half. The cashews got a rough chop (or your could crush with the side of your chef’s knife).  All the ingredients were mixed together with 1-2 tablespoons of Aunt Carol’s Salad Dressing and the whole works was put on rye bread.  Voila! Dinner is served.

This made enough for one big sandwich that we split and ate with reheated turkey spaetzle soup from the day before (recipe coming soon).

Half Turkey Salad Sandwich on Rye

The dressing is also good spread on bread when making a cold cut sandwich, or in tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad, chicken salad, ham spread, and if you mix a little with ketchup, it’s a better than Big Mac sauce.  When you’re feeling adventurous, use it to make deviled eggs or as a sauce for an easy pasta salad.

If you have family hanging around for a few days after Thanksgiving, you’ll be thankful to have this around, ready to dress up your leftover turkey or whip up a quick meal of tuna melts or chicken salad when you return home exhausted from Black Friday shopping.

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