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Sunday Cooking: Cheesy Quinoa Muffins

Cheesy Quinoa Muffins (Serves 6)
(Adapted from Everyday Home Cooks and a co-worker’s recipe)

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (red or white)
1 cup chicken/vegetable broth or water
2 shredded carrots
2 sliced green onions
1 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
(Optional fillings include: diced jalapeno, cooked sausage, cooked bacon, red pepper flakes – add-ins may affect Points Plus)

1. Bring water or broth to a boil. Stir in quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook 15-20 minutes until all water is absorbed.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease a standard sized muffin tin with non-stick spray.
3. Add carrots, green onions, garlic, flour, eggs, cheeses, salt and pepper to a bowl. Stir in cooked quinoa slowly (if it’s too hot it will scramble the eggs!)
4. Fill each muffin tin with approximately 2tbsp of quinoa mixture (about half – three-quarters full). Bake until set, about 20 minutes.

Each serving: 2 muffins
4 Points Plus per serving! Paired with a salad, makes a great lunch. These are also tasty hot or cold!

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Sunday Cooking: Crockpot Chili

Chili is just…. the greatest.  I love it.  I love Cincinatti chili, I love Tex Mex chili, I love spicy Chili, tofu chili, and I love perfecting my recipe.

I apologize to who ever I am stealing borrowing this recipe from, but I can’t recall where the original came from.  But I made it enough of my own that I feel perfectly comfortable sharing it with all of you…

3 Bean Crockpot Chili
(If  you’re using chili beans and kidney beans, are they the same bean?  These questions keep me up at night…  If you say yes, than consider this TWO bean chili.)

1/2 white onion, chopped
1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with chilis
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 can chili beans, NOT rinsed (use all that good stuff!)
1 envelope spicy chili seasoning
1/2 to 3/4 lb lean ground beef (90%-96% lean)

Brown the ground beef until cooked through.  Drain fat and add to crockpot.

Add tomatoes, onions and seasoning.  Stir.

Rinse the black beans and kidney beans and add to the pot.  Add chili beans, and up to 1 can of water if you want to thin the chili out.

Stir to combine, and cook in crockpot on low 7-9 hours.

What is it about this that tastes SO good?  I can’t answer that question.  It just DOES.  It’s hearty, it’s spicy, it just…  worked.

Thoughts: I went for the most inexpensive lean beef I could, which turned out to be about 3/4ths a pound of ground sirloin.  You can use what ever amount of beef you want, I wouldn’t go more than a pound, and know that whatever you do use can affect PP values if you are following Weight Watchers.

As for the chili seasoning, I used an envelope of spicy seasoning because I had it in the cupboard.  Same with the chili beans, they were already there.  Use what ever beans you have handy, I’m sure they will be fine!

Finally, serving sizes.  This ended up making roughly 9 cups.  Again, this depends on whether or not you add water, and how much water.  I said mine was 9 servings, and that averaged out to 4PPs per serving.

Happy (Slow) Cooking!

 

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Sunday Cooking: Best Beef Stew Ever.

Sundays in autumn are made for beef stew.

Beef stew is made for a girl on a budget.

I’m not entirely sure where the original recipe for this came from, but it’s one that I wrote down on an index card ages ago, and when I can’t find it, I get anxious that it’s lost forever.  The weather has been getting cooler, and as the seasons turn I think of comfort food.  Comfort food does not often lend itself to healthy eating, but in this case, I can make an exception.  Because it is just so tasty.

Beef Stew
Last name Ever. First name Greatest.

Best Beef Stew Ever
1/2lb stew meat (original recipe calls for 2lbs.  I bought the cheapest, smallest package at the grocery.  You can certainly add more, but may affect PPs)
1 10oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 10oz can french onion soup
1/2 lb carrots, chopped
1 lb red potatoes, quartered
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red wine

Add soups and wine to slow cooker.  Stir together.  Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.

In the Weight Watcher’s Tracker, this adds up to 6PPs per serving.  I estimated it at 6 servings, but until it’s finished, I’m not sure how many servings there actually are!  All I know is that every time I make this recipe I am really happy, and sharing it with friends is even better.

I’m serving it with crusty bread and a side salad.

What is YOUR favorite recipe?

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Back on track…ish.

Meh. Hit some sort of “I don’t give a care” wall the past few weeks. Didn’t really have any desire to track, spending far too much time wandering the 1/2 off Easter candy aisles at CVS, and spending way too much money on bad food choices.

A HUGE part of my success as been planning. Mostly, it’s having an exercise plan, but it’s also really a food plan. And the biggest part of the food plan is having the things you LIKE. So… After work, pre-dinner snack: This is how we get it all back. Because I worked too hard to lose it all to marshmallow bunnies….

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Sunday Cooking: Baked Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Ok, so it’s Wednesday…  But I cooked this on Sunday!

Macaroni and cheese has been a favorite staple food of mine.  I used to make Paula Deen’s Cheesy Mac a lot.  It was my staple comfort food, and also a “go to” for potlucks or dinner parties.  Easy, delicious, totally unhealthy.

I have tried a few recipes for lightened up mac and cheese, and have been pretty disappointed in the results.  Usually it ends up bland & flavorless and not worth the Points.  Until I discovered Skinny Taste Baked Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese.  I literally can’t stop thinking about how good this is.  I’ve been going to a lot of lunch meetings this week, so I haven’t been bringing food, and I am genuinely regretting that!

Skinny Taste Inspired Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
(This reflects the changes I made to the original recipe. It is half of the original, and makes 5 1 cup servings.)
1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni (I didn’t have whole wheat, but it can of course be used)
1 tbsp butter
1/8 cup flour
1/8 cup minced onion (I used red onion and just chopped some of it up, not an exact measurement)
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used what I had left, 1/2 bag shredded reduced fat taco cheese, and 1/2 cup full fat cheddar)
1 lb fresh broccoli
1/8 cup shredded parmesan (this is the same amount as in the full recipe)
1/8 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat panko)
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Prepare a baking dish by spraying with cooking spray.

Chop up the broccoli to bite sized pieces, discarding the stems.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add broccoli and macaroni to pasta cooking directions (7-9 minutes)

In a skillet, melt the butter.  Add onion and cook on low, about 2 minutes.  Add flour, stirring until flour and butter combine and slightly brown.  Whisk in milk and chicken broth, and raise heat to medium high.  Bring to a boil, whisking mixture smooth.  Allow to boil, while stirring often, to allow the sauce to thicken and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove sauce from heat and mix in cheese.  Stir until melted.  Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Drain pasta and broccoli.  Pour pasta mixture in to prepared baking dish.  Pour cheese sauce over pasta, stir to combine.

Top with breadcrumbs and parmesan.  Spray with cooking spray.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  You can also broil it to get the breadcrumbs more golden brown, but I don’t have a boiler, and it worked out just fine!

ENJOY!

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Sunday Cooking: Tofu “Cheese”

I first tried tofu cheese at the Andersonville Farmers’ Market.  I am lucky enough to live in a great neighborhood, where we have a weekly market from June-October.  (The Winter Market is going on now, but I’m a bad neighbor and haven’t been yet!)  One of the vendors is a local tofu producer, Phoenix Bean, and they bring a variety of soybean treats to market.  The spicy tofu salad is one of my favorites…  until I tried tofu cheese.  When I asked what the recipe was, they said “Google it!”  (Nice one, Librarian…)

So, I picked up some Phoenix Extra Firm Tofu, and then I did just that.  I came across Tofu for Two‘s recipe for tofu “cheese.”  The blogger points out that, if you are serving this to people who love cheese, you may not want to call it cheese.  I think that’s a wise piece of advice.  Let’s just call it tofu spread.  Or maybe veggie spread for those who think they don’t actually like tofu.  Here’s a secret:  tofu will take on any flavor you add to it!  I don’t cook with it very often, but this recipe may become a party favorite at my house.

Veggie Spread (Adapted from Tofu for Two’s Tofu Cheese Recipe)

10oz Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
1tsp soy sauce
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil

1.  Press the tofu.  You need to do this to get the extra moisture out of it.  I didn’t quite press mine enough, so the spread is still a little watery.  The method that has worked best for me is to slice the tofu in to smaller slices, then line a plate with a double layer of paper towels, put the tofu on the plate, then put another layer of doubled towels on top.  I then put either a cookie sheet or a 2nd plate on top, then find your heaviest book or the most canned goods you can pile on top, to press out the water.  After one hour, swap out the wet paper towels for new dry ones.  Press the tofu for at least 2 hours.

2.  Crumble the tofu in to a bowl.  Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice and garlic to the bowl and mix it all together.  (I just used my hands, especially helpful to crumble the tofu.)

3.  Mix in the olive oil.  Add salt if needed.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or preferably over night.

Enjoy this with…  anything.  🙂  Really, the tofu takes on the garlic and salt and is just really tasty.  I have used it as a vegetable dip with carrots, celery, etc.  Or you can spread it on toast or crackers.  Tofu “cheese” is also great as a mix-in with your scrambled eggs.  You’ll get the extra protein punch with a LOT of extra flavor.

I figured this was 6 servings (serving size: 2tbsp), and that factors out to be 2 Points Plus if you’re following Weight Watchers.  Enjoy your tofu!