PORK LOIN and APPLES in the SLOWCOOKER

So, you don't want to heat up your kitchen? Try this
super easy slow cooker recipe, it is excellent for any busy day. Pork seasoned with fresh apples and cinnamon and cooked on low for 4 hours, it is moist, delicious and super tender.



There isn't much of a strict recipe here, just a few simple steps.

Using a pork loin roast(about 2-3 pounds) **Not a tenderloin**
1 large apple  (any kind you like)
honey
1/2 cup chopped onion (more if you like)
1/2 cup chopped celery(more if you like)
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon



Slice the pork loin into  nice thick slices but not all the way
through the meat....cut about 75% of the way through. Sprinkle the salt and pepper in between each slice




Put a nice thick slice (or two) of apple into each cut.



Drizzle with honey


Saute the onions and celery in a little butter until they are almost tender, then lay them on top of the pork and apples and sprinkle everything with just a little more salt and pepper and the cinnamon.

Using a long spatula, lift everything into a greased slow cooker.
Cook it on low for 4 hours. 

Pour a little bit of the broth (that will have formed under the roast) over the meat on your plate and serve.


ENJOY !!!
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EASY CHOCOLATE WAFER COOKIES

Chocolate wafer cookies can be used for so many things. They are great in the ever popular no-bake eclair "cake", and they look so pretty coated with mint chocolate at Christmas, they are perfect for ice cream sandwiches, and much more. Unfortunately, commercial chocolate wafer cookies are sometimes hard to find in the store, especially around the holidays.

Problem solved: I found a recipe that tastes just like Nabisco's chocolate wafer cookies.





1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use 1/2 cup)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar   (I use 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) UNsalted butter, 
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking soda in the bowl of your food processor and pulse several times to mix thoroughly.

Cut the SLIGHTLY softened butter into 12 chunks and add them to the flour mixture. Pulse several times.

In a small cup, mix the milk and vanilla and drizzle it into the cookie batter while the food processor is running. Continue pulsing until the batter clumps around the blade or the sides of the bowl.

Transfer dough to the counter (no extra flour needed) and knead a few times to form into a 12" x 2" log. Cover in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour. I like to square off the sides of the log to give me more of a square cookie.

The original recipe says to slice into 1/4" thick slices, but I find that 1/8" slices are better. Bake them on parchment lined cookie sheets (1 1/2" apart) in a pre-heated 375° oven, for 12-15 minutes. My electric oven takes 13 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes, then place them on a wire rack. They will crisp up as they cool.

You can store these cookies in an airtight container for up to two weeks or they can be frozen up to 2 months, so they are a perfect "make ahead" baking project.




At Christmas, I dipped these
chocolate wafers into melted
Andres Creme de Menthe chocolates
they were Deee-licious!!

Chocolate wafers in the (ever popular)
Eclair Cake is a nice twist


No Bake Eclair Cake
Overnight in the fridge, the cookies 
turn into "cake"...delicious!!
Here's the link: No Bake Eclair Cake

ENJOY !!!
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CROCKPOT PICNIC BEANS

I've been making these beans for my family for 30+ years and they are always a hit. Now that we are empty nesters, I make a big pot of these and then freeze them in 2 cup containers for a quick and yummy side dish for any meal. 



I put the following ingredients (which are always in my pantry) into a large crockpot before I go to bed and let them cook on LOW all night.



2 cups DRY navy beans (do not soak)
6 cups water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar  (light brown sugar works well too)
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
3/4 cup sweet onion chopped small and sautéed
(1) 8 ounce can tomato sauce
small pinch of cayenne pepper
6 slices crisp cooked and drained bacon

Now, a word about the beans:  Over the years, I've tried every kind of DRY bean there is and they ALL work, however, the tiny little "navy beans" work the best and tolerate re-heating without going mushy. I highly recommend that you use navy beans. Make sure you rinse and sort the dry beans, but do NOT pre-soak them.

Put everything into a large crockpot and cover with 6 cups of water. Stir well and set on low for 12 hours. The last 3-4 hours, prop the lid of the slow cooker open (just a little) with a spoon, to thicken the sauce. 


Note about onions: When I decide to make these beans (and I'm out of fresh onions), I use a scant tablespoon of dehydrated onion flakes, they work well.


ENJOY !!!
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LIGHT AS AIR PEANUT BUTTER PIE

Most peanut butter recipes like this are way to "heavy" and way to sweet, but this one is PERFECT, it's more like a light mousse. 

Double the ingredients and put it in a 9x13 dish and it will disappear from ANY buffet table in a wink, followed by lots of requests for the recipe. IT IS LIGHT AS AIR !!!!!




9" Pie or double the ingredients and
make a 9" x 13" size for a crowd 


CRUST
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine all crust ingredients and press into a 9" pie pan (pushing up the sides) sit it in the fridge while you are making the filling.

FILLING
8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter  (I use Jiff)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whipping cream

Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth, then add the peanut butter, sugar, butter and vanilla.  Beat on high until the mixture is very well mixed and smooth.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until you get stiff peaks, then gently fold it into the peanut butter mixture by hand, making sure that it is well mixed and you don't see any streaks of white.

Spoon filling into the crumb crust. Chill the whole thing for 3-4 hours or overnight.

NOTE: For the chocolate decoration on this pie, I heat 1/4 cup of milk to boiling, then pour it over 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Stir until well melted and smooth. drizzle over the finished pie and then sprinkle with a few graham cracker crumbs and chopped peanuts for decoration....(not  necessary, but fun).

NOTE: OK......here's a warning.... if you are like me and you like to lick the beaters and spoons, you will notice sugar grains in the filling.....don't freak out. After it chills in the fridge for a couple of hours, they will totally disappear and the filling will be SILKY SMOOTH!! I promise!!!



This stuff is totally addicting!!

ENJOY !!!

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Thai Peanut Chicken Zoodles


Thai Peanut Chicken Zoodles is absolutely amazing! I love all the flavors of this colorful dish! The best part? it is packed with lots of protein and tons of nutrients from the variety of veggies! Winner winner chicken dinner!



Thai Peanut Chicken With Zoodles

Ingredients:
1 tsp minced garlic (1 Condiment)
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage (2 Greens)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced (2 Greens)
1 1/2 pounds zucchini and yellow squash, spiralized into noodles (7 1/2 Greens)
2 lbs chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch pieces (4 Leaner Leans)
Cooking spray

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup PB2 (4 Optional Snacks)
2 packets Stevia (2 Condiments)
3 tbsp lite soy sauce (3 Condiments)
4 tsp sesame oil (4 Healthy Fats)
1 tbsp rice vinegar (1/4 Condiment)
1 tbsp water
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (1 Condiment)
1 tsp Sriracha (1 Condiment)

Toppings:
2 tsp sesame seeds (2 Condiments)
1/2 cup cilantro (1/2 Condiment)
1/4 cup chopped green onion (1/2 Green)

Directions:
Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and saute chicken until brown and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Place skillet back on burner, spray with cooking spray again and sauté the garlic over medium heat. Add the cabbage, and pepper slices. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are a little tender. Once tender, add the zucchini noodles and cook until tender-crisp. Add the chicken back to the skillet and stir until combined.

Combine all of the peanut sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until everything is combined. Pour the sauce over chicken and vegetables. Toss everything around until combined and warm through. Divide into 4 equal portions and top with sesame seeds, cilantro, and green onion. Serve immediately.

* I garnished with chopped peanuts, but if you are following the 5 and 1 plan leave them.


Makes 4 servings

Each serving provides
1 Leaner, 3 Greens, 3 Condiments, 1 Healthy Fat, and 1 Optional snack

Click Here to Print

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EASY CHEESECAKE BITES

Easy to make and delicious to eat, COLD AND CREAMY cheesecake bites.


CRUST
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted UNSALTED butter

Mix well and press into a PARCHMENT LINED* 8" X 8" baking pan then set aside.

16 ounce regular fat cream cheese (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt (delete salt if you use salted butter)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the room temperature cream cheese until light and fluffy (takes 1 or 2 minutes). Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, eggs and vanilla. Beat on low until well mixed but don't over-beat. Spread evenly over crust.

Bake in preheated 325° oven for 30 minutes (*see note at bottom).

Let baked bites sit at room temperature for 45 minutes, then freeze them for 2 hours  before you cut themAt the end of 2 hours, lift out of baking pan and cut into 2" squares.



Melt 1 cup of your favorite flavor chocolate chips in microwave (20 second bursts, stirring in between bursts). Mix well and dip tops of the frozen "bites" into the warmed chocolate.



Put back into the freezer just long enough to "set" the chocolate. Store in refrigerator.  Makes 16.


ENJOY !!!
* Lining your pan with parchment paper is important. It not only keeps everything from sticking, but it allows you to lift out the baked cheesecake without any trouble.

* This cheesecake cooked up very nicely. As far as baking time, the original recipe said 20-30 minutes in a glass pan. I found that it needed another 10 minutes in a metal pan. Just keep an eye on it. If the surface of the cheesecake is still super shiny, then it's not quite done yet. It loses that super shine when it done cooking. Hard to explain, you you'll see it.
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MAGIC CUPCAKES (cheater recipe)

This recipe is a great "cheater recipe" that I've used for YEARS!!! 

Basically it is just a DRY cake mix + a 20 ounce can of fruit pie filling + 3 large eggs mixed together (DO NOT follow cake mix instructions on the box). It makes an extremely moist and flavorful cupcake and it couldn't be easier !!

You can use ANY flavor dry cake mix and ANY flavor canned fruit pie filling so the combinations are endless. Our favorite is chocolate with cherry pie filling but we've also thoroughly enjoyed chocolate cake with raspberry pie filling, strawberry cake with strawberry pie filling, spice cake with peach pie filling, and yellow cake mix with lemon pie filling (*see note below about white cakes).

STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES


(1) box dry cake mix (usually about 20 ounces?)
(1) can pre-prepared pie (fruit) filling (usually about 20 ounces?)
(3) large eggs

For the cupcakes posted today, I combined a box of Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix (ignore any directions on the box) plus a 20 ounce can of Wilderness strawberry pie filling plus three large eggs. Put everything in your mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes (batter will be a little thicker than you expect). Fill paper lined cupcake pans about 2/3 full and bake at 350° for 20 minutes (or till toothpick tests clean). That's it!!! 

NOTE:* If you use a white cake mix, stick with a light colored pie filling like peach, or lemon. The darker fruit fillings taste good mixed with a white cake, but they produce an odd color.

NOTE: This recipe works very well for sheet cakes, as well as layer cakes. Just use the toothpick test for doneness instead of the baking times on the cake mix box. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: After you remove the cake from the pan, cover the HOT cake tightly with plastic wrap and let it cool. Keep the cake wrapped in the plastic until you frost the cake. 

I do this step with ALL of my cakes. It makes a huge difference.


FROSTING

1 cup of UNSALTED butter (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
food coloring (optional)

Cream the butter with an electric mixer until it gets fluffy. Add everything else and beat on medium speed until everything is well mixed, then beat on high speed until it is smooth and fluffy.

ENJOY !!!
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BAKED POTATO CHIPS

When I am on a diet, (who am I kidding, I'm always on a diet) my weight loss plan starts to falter when I get a craving for something crunchy and salty. I'm not talking about raw fruits and veggie type of crunchy, I'm talking about potato chip crunchy. If I ignore this craving, it just gets stronger; does that sound familiar to anyone?

I did some online searching for a remedy to my craving that wouldn't have a billion calories. I found three different recipes for baked potato chips that sounded promising.

After trying all three (and immediately tossing all three into the garbage), I decided to make up my own version. I must say I'm quite pleased with it. 

Not only does this little recipe completely satisfy my "crunchy chip craving" but the ENTIRE RECIPE only has one tablespoon of olive oil!!

Wash and dry six golf ball size Yukon gold potatoes. Slice them as thin as possible. A mandolin would work well for this, but I just used my sharpest knife and sliced them; just try to make them all an even thickness.


Toss the sliced potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, making sure that a little of the oil gets in between every slice. Lay the slices out on a heavy cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with vegetable spray, then sprinkle the potatoes lightly with kosher salt.

Baking time is important. One of the recipes I tried (and threw away) called for 2 hours at 200°F. That produced a dull, leathery piece of potato. I even let it cook an extra HOUR and it was still leathery...yuck.  Another recipe called for 18 minutes at 400°F which produced a crisp but burnt taste...yuck again.

So I decided to try Yukon gold potatoes. How long you bake them will depend on how thick you sliced your potatoes and how hot your oven runs. I baked mine in a 375°F electric oven for 22 minutes, flipping them over half way through the baking time....just right.


These chips are meant to be eaten right away because they are not meant to be stored like a commercial potato chip. There are small "non-crunch" parts on the chips that would not store well.

I hope you will try these. They have a WONDERFUL flavor and a fantastic, salty crunch!!!

NOTE:  Watch the chips closely the last couple of minutes because once they start to turn golden, they darken quickly.
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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Are you looking for freezer friendly meals? I get asked about freezer meals all the time and for good reason! We don't always have time to cook every night, but sometimes we may have an evening or two a week to prep for future meals. We may have busy schedules, but we still want delicious home cooked meals right? Lasagna has always been a great choice when wanting a meal that freezes well! Instead of traditional carb-laden lasagna made with pasta, make lasagna using spaghetti squash. It has a mild flavor which tastes wonderful with marinara sauce. It has all the flavors of regular hearty lasagna, but this version is lighter and healthier! A dish your entire family can enjoy!


Roasted spaghetti squash, creamy ricotta cheese, sweet Italian turkey sausage, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese! Comfort food to the max!


Spaghetti squash does have a tendency to release water when cooking. This is natural! I do find it to be less watery when I roast the squash in the oven rather cooking it in the microwave. Oven roasting is now my preferred method of choice. I think roasting makes all veggies taste better!


Begin by cutting the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and then scooping out all the seeds with a spoon. Get all those loose goopy (is that a word?) strands that are mixed in with the seeds too! Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up. Spray the squash with olive oil cooking spray and season with salt and pepper if desired.


Place the squash cut side down and bake until tender.


I love how the squash gets nice and brown around the top edges.


Use a fork along the flesh to make long spaghetti-like strands in a bowl.


Delicious spaghetti squash strands! Ready to be used or eaten!


Measure out 1 cup of spaghetti squash and place it on the bottom of a container. Sprinkle basil and garlic powder on top. Then add ricotta cheese. I used foil containers because I was freezing additional future meals for later. These foil containers are great because they can go from the freezer to the oven without cracking or breaking, unlike glass containers. I got these containers from Amazon. Click HERE for the link!


Next, remove the sweet Italian turkey sausage from their casings and cook until the sausage is cooked thoroughly. Drain the fat and set aside.


Measure out 3 ounces of sausage and spread it over the ricotta cheese. Top with Rao's marinara sauce.


This is the sauce you need to try! It tastes so delicious and it is lower in carbs than most marinara sauces out there! It is only 2 grams of carbs for 1/4 cup! 1/4 cup is 1 Green serving on the Medifast or Optavia Plan.


Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese on top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until heated thoroughly and cheese has melted.


I was able to make four lasagnas with my spaghetti squash. Three of those meals went into the freezer and the other one is getting in my belly! Label the containers with the name, date, and re-heating instructions. Yummy, healthy, comfort food prepped ahead of time! Enjoy!


Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Ingredients:
1/4 cup 2% Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (1/4 Lean)
1/4 cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese (1/4 Lean)
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (1/2 Condiment)
2 tsp grated Parmesan Cheese (2/3 Condiment)
1/2 tsp dried Basil (1/2 Condiment)
1 cup Spaghetti Squash, cooked (2 Greens)
1/4 cup Rao's Marinara Sauce (1 Green)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Place spaghetti squash on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Season lightly with salt and pepper, if desired. Place the spaghetti squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from oven and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a fork, scrape the flesh to get spaghetti-like strands. Measure out 1 cup of spaghetti squash and place on the bottom of an oven-safe container. Sprinkle garlic powder and dried basil on top of spaghetti squash. Then drop small spoonfuls of the ricotta on top.

Remove the Italian sweet sausage from their casings. Place the sausage in a medium sized skillet and cook over medium-high heat until cooked thoroughly. Drain the fat from the sausage. Measure out 3 ounces of cooked sausage using a food scale. Sprinkle the sausage on top of the ricotta cheese. Then add Rao's marinara sauce on top of the sausage. Next, add mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

Makes 1 Serving

Each serving provides
1 Lean, 3 Greens, and 1.6 Condiments

If you decide to freeze them, place in the fridge the night before you plan to eat them. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until heated thoroughly.


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Heavenly Ricotta Chocolate Almond Mousse

The HOT HOT months have already arrived in Vegas and I just want a delicious, cool, refreshing dessert that my entire family will love! Well by golly... I think I found it!


This is a decadent dessert that tastes similar to swiss almond chocolate ice cream! It has creamy ricotta cheese with sliced almonds and a subtle hint of chocolate. It is soooo soooo delicious! The best part is that it counts as half a Lean so you can indulge in this yummy treat after the rest of your Lean and Green Meal! Dessert anyone? Yes, please!


Using a few ingredients, makes this so easy to make! Plus there is no cooking involved! Just mix ricotta cheese, unsweetened cocoa, vanilla extract, and stevia together in a small bowl.


Top with sliced almonds and then chill for an hour!


A spoonful of yumminess! I absolutely love the crunch of the almonds combined with the smoothness of  the blended ricotta. Try it! You won't be disappointed!

Feel free to leave out the unsweetened cocoa powder and add different flavored extracts. For instance, I also love to switch out the vanilla extract and add lemon extract with grated lemon peel. A wonderful lemon taste for summer! Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite concoction is!



Heavenly Ricotta Chocolate Almond Mousse

Ingredients:

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (1/2 Lean)
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (1 Condiment)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (1/4 Condiment)
1/2 packet organic stevia (1 g carbohydrate or less per packet), or to taste (1/2 Condiment)
1/3 ounce almonds, sliced (1 Healthy Fat)

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together except almonds.
You could also use an immersion blender to make it smoother and creamier.
Pour into a small ramekin and top with sliced almonds.
Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

1 Serving
1/2 Lean, 1.75 Condiments and 1 Healthy Fat


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OVEN POACHED EGGS !!

A dear friend of mine, posted a video (from Foodstyle.com)about
poaching eggs in the oven and I was quite intrigued. Not only can poaching eggs, in the traditional method, be a disaster be challenging but you can only make 2-3 at a time!!

Here is what I found:

The video said to put about a tablespoon of water in each cup of a regular muffin pan, then crack an egg over the water and bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes.........well, that ALMOST worked.

I DID use the scant tablespoon of water, and I DID preheat my electric oven to 350°, but when I tried it using a standard cupcake (muffin) pan, the egg + water filled it to overflowing and took a full 20 minutes to cook, not 8 to 10.

On my second attempt, I had excellent luck using a jumbo size muffin pan (I think they call them Texas size?) and I gave it a light mist of vegetable spray, then put in the scant tablespoon of water and a large egg. I baked them at 350° for exactly 12 minutes (not 8 to 10)
and they lifted right out of the pan with a spoon.....YUM!!!


  A PERFECTLY POACHED EGG !!
Whether you are making one or 30, this method (with my tweaks) really does work and it couldn't be easier!!
The difference in cooking time (between my oven and the Foodstyle video) COULD be that their oven simply runs hotter than mine or maybe they were using smaller eggs (?)With so many variables, I suggest you do a "test egg" to see how long it takes in your oven before you make a whole pan of these.
One other note: When your eggs are done to your liking, take them OUT OF THE PAN right away or they will continue to cook.
Don't you just want to
dunk your toast in this one?

ENJOY !!!


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