Monday, September 30, 2013

Trader Joe’s – Trader Ming’s Chicken Egg Rolls

I cooked up a pack of Trader Joe’s – Trader Ming’s Chicken Egg Rolls to pair along with dinner one night.  I’ve tried just about all Trader Joe’s egg rolls and these have to be the most “authentic” egg rolls they sell.  They’ve got the classic thick and crunchy egg roll shell.

I cooked these in a convection oven with a little spritz of Pam cooking spray over the top of them. They cooked up perfectly, evenly and had a nice crispy wrapper.  The filling is more along the lines of the filling you’d get when ordering an egg roll at a Chinese restaurant. It’s filled with vegetables, but it’s also filled with pieces of shredded chicken, instead of pieces of pork.  There are pieces of carrot, cabbage, water chest nuts, bok choy, bamboo shoots, etc. mixed with the chicken. They’re perfect just as is, but they’re even better dipped into a little bit of sweet chili sauce.

A serving is one egg roll, which are 140 calories or 4 points plus values.  Definitely worth it if you’re an egg roll fan.

What is your favorite frozen egg roll?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trader Joe’s Roasted Rosemary Boneless Chicken Breast with Wild Rice Pilaf

I spotted this Trader Joe’s Roasted Rosemary Boneless Chicken Breast with Wild Rice Pilaf in the prepared foods section of my local Trader Joe’s and was intrigued. It looked good, it sounded good, so I decided to give it a shot.  I had it in the fridge for a few days, and then decided on having it for lunch with a small side salad.

I pierced the film and put it into the microwave, took it out when it was done and measured out my serving.  I initially raised an eyebrow at the chicken and realized the skin was still on it. Now, I don’t eat skin on any meat so it grossed me out just a bit –but I ended up pulling the skin off and chucking it in the garbage. Granted the removal of the skin would lower the points and calories, but since I wasn’t able to recalculate I left it as is.  The meal was quite filling with a small side salad.  The chicken was moist and the pilaf was delicious and packed with flavor and vegetables. It was one of the better heat and eat rice pilafs I have had.

Price wise these come in at right below $6, which truly isn’t bad for a convenience meal for two people.  A serving is half the container (255 grams), which is 310 calories or 8 points plus values.

What is one of your favorite prepared meal at a grocery chain?

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Nonfat Greek Yogurt

On my last trip through Trader Joe’s it was officially pumpkin season – which meant a lot of my favorite Trader Joe’s items were officially back.  One of the things I was very excited to try was the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Nonfat Greek Yogurt.  I have purchased pumpkin yogurt and my initial thought all the time is it would be perfect if thicker … and Trader Joe’s provided just that.

The yogurt itself is very thick like classic greek yogurt.  The pumpkin flavor is undeniable, but there is a noticeable tartness from the nonfat yogurt that is also on the forefront.  The tartness can be downplayed by adding in a little bit of artificial sweetener or even some honey.  I enjoyed my yogurt with a packet of Equal stirred into it, then topped over some strawberries and blueberries and topped off with 1/3 cup of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Granola.  It was delicious and very filling.  It’s the perfect pumpkin greek yogurt.  And I enjoyed it so much I made sure to pick up 2 more containers.

A container houses an 8 ounce serving which is 190 calories, which is equal to 5 points plus values. Sure, it’s high for yogurt, but it’s definitely worth it – plus you’re getting almost double the amount of yogurt you would typically get.

Have you tried the pumpkin greek yogurt from Trader Joe’s?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

PB Crave – CoCo Bananas

After purchasing a boatload of PB Crave off their website I decided to finally give the peanut butter a shot.  In my particular area, the line is sold at select Wal-Mart locations but it is also available on the company’s website.  The one peanut butter I was the most intrigued about was the PB Crave CoCo Bananas.

PB Crave peanut butter is a natural peanut butter and the oils separate from the peanut butter and has to be reincorporated into the mixture.  After a number of stirs with a buttering knife, everything is incorporated together and ready to eat.  CoCo Bananas is a blend of wild honey, chocolate and a natural banana flavor.  The peanut butter itself is not sweet like regular peanut butters on the market; it’s got more of a natural peanut butter flavor that’s slightly sweet.  I’d say the chocolate flavor is not really noticeable but the banana flavoring is definitely nice and smooth. It’s definitely a nice, delicious treat.

A 2 tablespoon serving is 180 calories or 5 points plus values.

Have you tried any PB Crave peanut butters?

Burger King - Strawberry Ice Cream Sundae

Every once in a while I enjoy grabbing an ice cream while out. Typically, McDonald’s has been the location of choice because I can get a vanilla cone, I know the points and there’s no second guessing, unlimited choices to choose from and it’s always portioned.  A few months back Burger King began selling ice cream cones and ice cream sundaes but I hadn’t looked up the points because I simply haven’t been in an ice cream mood … until the other night.

I wanted a sundae, but I didn’t want one from McDonald’s.  Chocolate sundaes can get old, plus they’re not truly a favorite of mine. I like caramel or strawberry sundaes and well ... McDonald’s doesn’t do caramel sundaes anymore. So I pulled up the Burger King website, found the ice creams, saw the strawberry (and caramel), calculated and decided Burger King had won!  A few minute jaunt down to Burger King and I had a small Strawberry Sundae in hand!

The sundae is delicious – the strawberry sauce isn’t very sweet and there are real pieces of strawberry in it.  The ice cream is similar to the frozen soft serve you’d get at McDonald’s.  Together it was quite a delicious and satisfying treat.  There are 2 sizes available – I went with the small because that’s truly more than I needed.  I enjoyed it and I will definitely keep Burger King on my radar for whenever I’m in the mood for a strawberry or caramel sundae!

A small strawberry sundae is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.  Worth it? I think so!

Have you tried any ice cream dessert from BK?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Trader Joe’s Stuffed Peppers with Seasoned Turkey & Rice

This is an oldie but a goodie – and it’s only an oldie because my local Trader Joe’s have not carried this before even though from what I understand these are sold at other Trader Joe’s.  So when I spotted the Trader Joe’s Stuffed Peppers with Seasoned Turkey & Rice I made sure to pick up a pack.

I’m a big stuffed pepper fan, so much that I make them at home from time to time. My personal stuffed peppers are quite simple, with simple ingredients and these stuffed peppers are flavorful, bold and simply delicious.  They’re made up of a large red pepper, split in half and stuffed with a mixture of turkey, rice, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, onions, sauce and spices. I will note, there is fennel seed in it, which gives the turkey meat a sausage quality which really makes it unique.  The vegetables for the most part are cut up pretty small so it’s not like chunks of mushrooms, but more like slivers throughout the mixture.  It was a little reminiscent of the stuffed peppers I make, just a lot bolder with new and unique flavors.  They’re filling and simply delicious.  I enjoyed them and will repurchase these again.

A serving is 1 pepper (1/2 the container), which is 190 calories or 5 points plus values. You could eat the entire container for 10 points plus values.  Definitely worth it!

What is your favorite prepared meal from Trader Joe’s?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Trader Joe's - Mikawaya Strawberry Mochi

I have heard and read so many great things about Mochi ice cream that I decided I had to give it a try, particularly after I heard I could find it at Trader Joe’s. I found the Mochi ice creams and out of all the flavors available, I went with the Mikawaya Strawberry Mochi because it was the safest route.

I wasn’t sure of what to expect, so when I opened the package and took one out I thought they’d be like little ice cream bon-bon’s. After trying it, I wasn’t wowed and was more weirded out so I decided to hold off and try it another time.  Waiting a few weeks I gave it another shot and I have to say … I really don’t like mochi. At all.  The very middle is good because its flavored ice cream, but the outside “bun” or mochi is just not appetizing – at least for my taste buds. It reminds me of Play-Doh which I think subconsciously weirds me out even more. It’s very chewy, it’s doughy and I don’t feel like it had much flavor at all.  I was TKO’d after one bite and ended up chucking the box because no one was adventurous enough to try one and I wasn’t going to force myself to eat them.

A serving is 1 piece, which are 100 calories or 3 points plus values.  Since I forgot to take a picture of the label - there’s 3g fat, 25mg sodium, 19g carb, 0g fiber, 14g sugar and 2g protein.

Are you a fan of Mochi?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pop-Tarts Chocolate Peanut Butter

I picked up a box of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pop-Tarts after fawning over them for weeks at the grocery store.  I had tried a bite of the regular peanut butter Pop-tarts and had assumed that these could only be better.

After the first bite, I knew that assumption was wrong.  These chocolate peanut butter Pop-tarts just did not personally live up to the hype. The crust is chocolaty but more of a cocoa flavor than chocolate. They have a peanut butter filling and a chocolate frosting.  I had hoped they’d taste like a Pop-tart version of a Reese peanut butter cup … but it just did not live up to that. I was rather let down by the flavor and didn’t enjoy them very much. They were more boring than exciting … and I felt the plain strawberry Pop-tarts are so much better than these.

A single pastry is a serving (so make sure to get a Ziploc bag or find a friend to give the additional pastry to) which is 200 calories or 5 points plus values.

What is your favorite Pop-tart flavor?

Trader Joe’s Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal

Fall brings out all the pumpkin and fall goodies at Trader Joe’s.  This meant, I was super excited to pick up a box of Trader Joe’s Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal. I did not have a chance to give this a try last year and since I have a pumpkin fascination/obsession I wanted to give it a go.

I’m a big granola fan – but I truthfully don’t eat it very often at all. This has been the first box of granola I have purchased in over 3 years … and I have to say, it was well worth the wait.  I first described this granola as what you would get if plain old granola and pumpkin pie had a baby. It’s that classic crunchy granola texture mixed with chewy raisins with a very noticeable pumpkin spice flavor mixed throughout. It’s delicious, flavorful and mixes well with yogurts and assorted fruits.  I’ve had this pumpkin spice granola over pumpkin flavored yogurt, while I’ve also had it with coconut vanilla yogurt mixed with fresh blueberries, strawberries and granola on top of it.  It adapts well to the flavors it’s mixed with while it also holds up to its crunchy texture.  I have been such a fan I have incorporated this into my breakfast/snacks daily.

A serving is 2/3 cup which is 240 calories, or 6 points plus values.  Although I find a 1/3 cup serving is more than enough to accompany a serving of yogurt. A 1/3 cup serving calculates out to be 3 points plus values.

Have you ever tried Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice granola?

Pot Roast Dinner

I had some beef eye round steaks in the freezer, so I decided to use them in a pot roast bag to make dinner a lot simpler.  I’d been in the mood for pot roast so this was going to be a perfect dinner. I trimmed the edge of fat off the steaks and I have to say, I was a little surprised to see how lean they were. I’ve never had or cooked eye round steaks.

I opened up a McCormick Pot Roast bag, layered in the steaks, added in one cut up onion, some baby carrots and potatoes. I mixed up the seasoning mix with water, poured it over the mixture and found it wasn’t quite enough liquid. So I used half a pack of onion soup mix, mixed it up with water and poured that in. closed up the bag and baked it for 1 hr and 20 minutes.

It came out perfect. There wasn’t a lot of “gravy” in the bag but I think it’s due to my choice in using a leaner cut of beef and it not releasing a lot of water during the cooking process. It was a great dinner that provided leftovers for the next day!

The whole plate pictured was only 8 points plus!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lucy’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was given a few Lucy’s cookies last year and was surprised with how tasty they were.  So, when I spotted this pack of Lucy’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies at the store I made sure to pick up a box.

The fact I enjoy these aside, the nutrition facts are what initially sold me on these cookies. 3 cookies is a serving size and they’re pretty normal size cookies (similar to a Chips Ahoy size). They’re light, airy and crispy, flavorful and a perfect little dessert or even snack. Even though they are chocolate chip they have a bit of a sugar cookie flavoring to them, which I feel makes them unique. They’re perfect on their own, or alongside a cup of coffee (or milk if you enjoy milk).  They are a little expensive – as most gluten free items tend to be, but this pack was right under $4.

A serving size is 3 cookies, which are 130 calories and only 3 points plus values. Quite a steal for cookies!

What is your favorite brand of packaged cookies?

Trader Joe’s Battered Fish Nuggets

Even though I’m not a big fan of seafood, I do enjoy fried fish from time to time. While at Trader Joe’s, I spotted they had a selection of frozen fish available and decided to give one a try. Since I tend to stand behind Trader Joe’s products I felt it couldn’t be too bad … so I asked an employees recommendation to help me choose between the two different boxes I was trying to decide between. The employee told me that he personally really enjoys the fish nuggets ... so with that, the Trader Joe’s Battered Fish Nuggets went into my cart.

One early afternoon I decided to put some fish into the oven to have for lunch. I followed the cooking directions but spritzed non-stick cooking spray on top of the frozen fish nuggets before putting them into the oven.  I cooked them for the recommended time and took them out. Whipped up a little bowl of homemade tartar sauce (1 ½ tablespoons Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise and sweet relish), a drop of ketchup on my plate and it was lunch time!

The fish itself is made of Alaskan Pollock – which uniquely is a fish I have never had before.  Alaskan Pollock has a milder taste, is white in color and has lower oil content.  The nuggets are battered in a light, crispy batter so you’re awarded with a nice portion of fish and not a chunk of batter and a dime size piece of fish.  The fish has a “greasy” quality to it and by that I mean it’ll make your fingers feel a little slick, but it’s not greasy in taste, etc. It’s got a very reminiscent texture and feel to deep fried fish, which I appreciated because that is what I am used to.  Taste wise, this is delicious – it’s not fishy (which I appreciate) and it’s very filling.  A handful of baked French fries to go alongside these and it would be a go-to meal for me whenever I’m in the mood for fried fish. Definitely a winner and a homerun.

A serving is just about four pieces (4 ounces), but I found with the size pieces I had I could have 4 ½ pieces for 4 ounces.  The serving is 190 calories, which is 5 points plus values.

What is one of your favorite frozen fish dishes?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Somersaults – Cinnamon Crunch

I spotted this pack of Somersaults - Cinnamon Crunch while browsing the snack aisle at Target. The bag caught my attention because it’s different from normal run of the mill snacks – plus the little “All Natural” description near the opening of the bag peaked my interest.   I put them in my cart not really knowing what to expect because I honestly hadn’t tried anything like what I imagined it to be.

Opening the pouch, I was rewarded with a nice sweet cinnamon scent. Taking one of the nuggets out of the bag and popping it into my mouth, they certainly are crunchy and a bit hard.  They’re not rock hard, but they are very crunchy.  You can see the sunflower seeds atop of each nugget.  Tastewise they remind me of very cinnamon infused granola. They have that classic granola flavor in there, even with it being a completely different texture and product.  They’re quite good – sweet, crunchy, flavorful, and even a few is enough to satisfy your snacky tooth.  I enjoy these on their own, or alongside my yogurt as an added treat.

A serving, which is 14 pieces, is 140 calories and 4 points plus values.

Have you tried Somersaults?

Roast Chicken Dinner

I typically don’t make whole chickens, but once in a blue moon I do.  I’m more of a white meat kind of girl – but since my boyfriend likes legs and wings the bird doesn’t go to waste.  We happened to be given a whole chicken, so I decided to whip together a dinner that could have been straight out of a Martha Steward magazine.

I cleaned out the chicken carcass, rinsed it down with water, and then put it into a basket which I had set inside of a casserole pan. This way the grease could drip from the meat and the air could evenly circulate around the bird crisping it all up … instead of crisping the top and leaving the rest a greasy, soggy mess.  I went into the cabinet and concocted a dry rub mixture, adding salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning, McCormick chicken seasoning, Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute, and oregano into a bowl. I mixed it together then evenly rubbed it over the skin (top and bottom), then separated the skin from the meat and rubbed the seasoning over the meat as well.  I stuffed a medium quartered onion into the cavity and popped it all into a 350 degree oven and baked it for roughly 1 ½ hours.

I cut some washed yellow skinned potatoes into chunks and put them into a pot of salted water.  When the chicken had 30 minutes left to cook I put my potatoes onto boil. I didn’t peel my potatoes because the skin is about as thick as red skinned potatoes. Plus I like my mashed potatoes with skin on them. I mashed them up with a teaspoon of margarine, some skim milk, salt and pepper.

I had some French style frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s.  I took half the bag and defrosted them in the microwave, drained the water from them, then tossed them with minced garlic. I then popped the green beans onto a non-stick baking sheet, which was coated with non-stick cooking spray and roasted them off in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Since I had some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, I decided to chop them up and make a childhood favorite – tomato, onion and cucumber salad. It’s simply pickling cucumbers, sliced, tomatoes sliced or quartered and scallions that are chopped. Before serving I simply toss it with 1 tablespoon of the dressing of my or my guests’ choice.

At dinner time I heated up some canned chicken gravy and opened a small can of jellied cranberry sauce. It was literally like Thanksgiving dinner … and what’s even better was it was delicious WITHOUT my beloved stuffing.

My whole plate for dinner was 10 points plus!

Do you like Thanksgiving-esque dinners?

Kellogg’s Cinnabon Cereal

I picked up a box of Kellogg’s Cinnabon Cereal because it was on sale and also because frankly it looked delicious. I tend to get bored with cereals after a while and this was a way to spruce things up.  There is a little Cinnabon stand in my local mall, which provides enticing cinnamon bun scents throughout my malls food court. I love Cinnabon treats but I’m not necessarily a fan of the ridiculous amount of fat and calories in them.

The cereal is made up of a crunchy yet airy cinnamon multigrain cereal. It has that classic Cinnabon cinnamon flavor, which makes it equally delicious.  What’s great about the cereal is a serving is 1 cup, which is a larger serving when in comparison to other cereals on the market.  I also didn’t find this to really get soggy while I ate it, the cereal for the most part kept up to its crunchiness. I have enjoyed this both with milk, while also on its own.

A 1 cup serving is 120 calories, which is equal to 3 points plus values.

Have you tried Cinnabon cereal?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

McDonald's Baked Pumpkin Pie

McDonald`s makes hands down the best fast food pies - at least in my opinion. I do enjoy them, but I do not have them often – maybe once or twice a year. I’m a fan of their apple pie, and I am also “guilty” of occasionally sampling some of their seasonal pies. There have been some flops, but the McDonald’s Baked Pumpkin Pie is definitely a win-win for me.

I was surprised with how yummy their pumpkin pie is! It had real pumpkin filling in it and it wasn’t very sweet.  All around it was delicious. The pumpkin pie tasted like you took a slice of pumpkin pie, wrapped it in McDonald’s signature pie crust and served it up luke warm.  I find these little pies to be handy especially since it’s not always easy to find single servings of pumpkin pie in the market. Having one of these gives the flavor of pumpkin pie, but without having a whole pie sitting in your house.  A yummy treat without any added temptation.

Calorie wise a pie is 240 calories which is equal to 6 points plus.

Have you tried the McDonald`s pumpkin pie?

Yoplait Light Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again … fall is upon us, which means pumpkin everything! One of my favorite repeat purchases has been Yoplait Light Pumpkin Pie Yogurt.  This little gem is distributed by Yoplait this time of year … but oddly enough is usually only found (at least in my area) at Target locations. I first spotted this last year and have been hooked since then.  When I spotted this 4-pack at Target, I immediately put it in my cart.

The yogurt flavoring is on point; it tastes just like a pumpkin pie although a slightly tart pumpkin pie.  Before I take my first bite, I usually have to remind myself of the consistency. The yogurt is on the thinner side which isn’t the texture of pumpkin pie so it at first is a little mind boggling. Granted, if this were a Greek yogurt, I think it’d be a homerun in the park but even with it being regular yogurt it’s quite delicious.. Last year I did try these incorporated into a smoothie and it was a deliciously fabulous experience. I haven’t made a pumpkin pie smoothie yet because I ate up my yogurt and have to get to Target to get another pack soon!

One cup is 2 points plus, whereas 2 cups is 3 points plus.  Quite worth it for the average pumpkin lover!

Have you tried the Yoplait Pumpkin Pie yogurt?

PB Crave Haul

I had seen quite a number of posts on Instagram featuring PB Crave which is a natural line of peanut butter.  One of the flavors intrigued me so I hopped on the companies website to see where I could find it.  Walmart is listed as the main retailer but I was having trouble finding it in specific stores – I did find it in one local Walmart, but they did not have the flavor I truly wanted. Plus, they’re rather expensive … almost $6 a jar.

While on Instagram a fellow Weight Watcher and friend posted about a deal PB Crave was hosting in their website.  If you bought a combo pack (of 3 flavors) you would receive a 3-pack of Razzle Dazzle for free.  With the price of shipping added into the total, it made it quite a deal … under $3 a jar. So I jumped on the bandwagon, submitted an order and about a week later I received the package.

In case you are wondering, points plus wise a 2 tablespoon serving is 4-5 points plus.  But here’s what I ordered and received:

-          Cookie Nookie – this is a cookie dough flavored peanut butter with honey and chocolate chips
-          CoCo Bananas – this is a blend of bananas, honey and cocoa
-          Choco Choco – this is a blend of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips with honey
-          Razzle Dazzle (3 jars – free w/ promo) – this is a blend of wild raspberry, wild honey, white and dark chocolate

Have you tried PB Crave peanut butter?

BBQ Chicken Rolls

I picked up the stuff to make pizza logs, but when it came time to make them I realized I forgot the pizza sauce and I did not have any in the cabinets. Since I didn’t want to open a big jar of pasta sauce, I decided to use my eggroll wrappers in a test recipe.  Since I had some leftover chicken in the refrigerator, I got a great idea for BBQ chicken rolls. BBQ chicken is a typically safe bet food wise (at least with my family) because buffalo chicken can be questionable for certain tastebuds.

These took about 5 minutes to prep everything, maybe 5-10 minutes to roll everything and 10-15 minutes to bake them.  Quite an easy meal to throw together, even on a whim!  They were delicious and a great meal. My boyfriend enjoyed them so much he kept going back for more. Winner!

Serves 15. 3 Points Plus Values.
-          15 NaSoya Egg Roll Wrappers
-          1 medium onion, sliced
-          10 oz. cooked roasted chicken, shredded
-          8 tbsp Stubb’s BBQ sauce

Add sliced onion to a non-stick skillet and cook until tender. If onions begin to brown a little too much, add 2 tablespoons of water to let the onions steam a bit..  Add in chicken and combine with onions, then stir in bbq sauce so all chicken is evenly coated.

Spray a non-stick cooking sheet with non-stick spray.

Add a heaping tablespoon of chicken mixture to the center of an egg roll wrapper. Fold first corner in, fold eggroll over once (forward motion), fold in each side and roll forward. When triangle piece of wrapper is remaining, dampen the ends of your fingertips with water, smooth over the egg roll wrapper and seal shut. Place triangle side down on a baking sheet.  Spray the top of the rolls with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Turning halfway through to brown each side.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lindt Hello My Name Is Strawberry Shortcake

I had seen the new line of Lindt chocolates on display at Target and refrained from picking one up just because I wasn’t able to pick the flavor I wanted. A few weeks went by and I headed into Target to buy some groceries and happened to have a $1 off coupon, so I figured I’d pick one up as a snack to share with my boyfriend one day.  So I picked up the Lindt Hello My Name Is Strawberry Shortcake.

The candy bar is a milk chocolate bar that has a strawberry cream cheese center and it does have a little bit of a gritty crunch to the inside similar to a cheesecake crust.  The chocolate itself is delicious – the classic smooth and creamy chocolate Lindt is known for.  The filling … it’s alright, it wasn’t mind-blowing fabulous.  It’s a strawberry cheesecake flavor that has a bit of gritty crunch to it, which I assume to be Lindts stab at the texture provided from graham cracker crust.  The strawberry flavor however tastes exactly like candied strawberries – which is not a flavor I typically go for.  It wasn’t horrible, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  My boyfriend on the other hand, did enjoy it.

A bar contains 2 ½ servings, with 4 square pieces being a serving.  A serving is 210 calories, which I feel is rather high for the amount of candy you do get – which calculates out to be 6 points plus values.

Have you tried any of the Lindt Hello My Name Is … candy bars?

Stuffed Peppers

Growing up my mother made THE best stuffed peppers (she still does).  She makes them the way my grandmother made them which also means they’re a family favorite. I’ve since learned how to make them and since becoming a Weight Watcher I’ve changed the recipe up just a tad (really only changing the ground beef and the choice of sauce) to make it a bit more point friendly.  The flavor is still there, it’s still reminiscent of my mother’s stuffed peppers and better yet she has even given them the stamp of approval!

As I got older, I realized that stuffed peppers can and are made in a wide range of ways. Bake, boil, par-boil, etc. Ingredients are plentiful and widely different.  You name it, it’s done.  But I will say, I’ve tried stuffed pepper recipes which are baked and par-boiled … but this way has always stolen my heart and taste buds. Perhaps that’s just because of how I’m used to having them but they’re perfect.

These can be eaten plain, as they are … but I do enjoy them with a little bit of ketchup on them. Again, childhood thing and it’s something I’ve never outgrown.  Another great thing about these is you can increase or shrink the recipe to however many peppers you’re aiming to make.  I’ve made 6 which was dinner for 3 individuals back-to-back, and then I’ve made 12 because we were having dinner guests.

I will point out my favorite way to have the peppers is with a tried and true green bell pepper. I feel it brings out more of the meat flavor and holds up during the boiling process a bit better.  I’ve also switched out my choice of pasta sauce using either canned (when making a smaller batch) or jarred when making more than 6.

Serves 6. Serving size 1 stuffed pepper. 10 points plus values.
-          6 Medium Bell Peppers (red or green – just try to keep them around the same size)
-          1 large onion, chopped
-          1 ½ lbs 93% lean ground beef, raw
-          1 ½ cups uncooked white rice (I prefer Goya Golden Canilla I find the rice keeps shape and doesn’t mush up but any white rice will do)
-          1 can Hunts Pasta Sauce – Chunky Vegetable
-          1 ½ tsp salt
-          1 1/2 tsp black pepper
-          Water

Wash peppers and cut to remove the stems and inner seeds. You can either take off the whole top, or cut a hole into it. Make sure to leave the pepper intact – like a bowl.

In a large bowl combine raw ground beef, rice, onion, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine (I use my hands).  Add in about ½ can of sauce and combine until well incorporated throughout the meat and rice mixture.

Stuff each pepper with equal amounts of meat. It’s okay if the peppers have a rounded top to them. Place the peppers into a deep pan that has a matching lid.

Fill the pan with water so the peppers are covered roughly ½ way up the sides.  Pour remaining sauce over the top of the peppers and into the water.

Place the pan over a medium flame until water begins a mild boil.  Cover, lower flame to medium-low.  Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes.  You can test if it’s done by making sure the rice granules are cooked through. If not done after 45 minutes, cook for 5-minutes longer.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trashy Taco Soup

I first stumbled upon this recipe after reading over a post on Emily Noel’s blog.  My initial thought was what on earth is this trashy taco soup?  After reading over the general gist of the recipe (see original recipe here), I decided to throw the recipe into Recipe Builder to see how many points a serving would be. I tend to be a bigger fan of stews and since this was said to be on the thicker side I was all on board.  Going through the ingredients I had on hand, I decided I would switch the recipe up just a tad and I have to say, I LOVED the end result.  It was filling, delicious and the possibilities are undoubtedly endless because it can be switched up to cater to any craving one may be having.  Here’s how I switched up mine just a bit:

Serves 8. 1 cup serving. 6 points plus values.

-          1 pound 93% lean ground turkey (or if you prefer 93% ground beef)
-          1 medium onion, diced
-          1 tablespoon minced garlic
-          14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes
-          10 oz. Rotel diced tomatoes & green chiles – original
-          15 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
-          15 oz. canned small red beans, drained and rinsed
-          15 oz canned corn, no salt added
-          15 oz. canned tomato sauce
-          1 envelope McCormick Taco Seasoning
-          1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch  dip
-          Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute (or hamburger seasoning) - Optional

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook together your ground meat, onion and garlic.  Season with 21 Season Salute or hamburger seasoning (if wanted).  Cook until onions are translucent and ground meat is cooked completely.

Transfer meat mixture to a Crock pot (or if you wish to cook it on the stove, transfer your meat to a soup pot).  Add in beans, Ro-tel tomatoes, diced tomatoes, black beans, red beans, corn, tomato sauce, ranch seasoning, and taco seasoning.  Mix together ingredients.

Set crock pot onto low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.  45 minutes before serving I turned the crock pot off to allow the mixture to cool and thicken up just a tad.

Nature Valley Granola Thins - Pumpkin Pie

I was actually told about these limited edition Nature Valley Granola Thins in Pumpkin Pie via Instagram. My love of pumpkin is strong and I personally wouldn’t have known about these unless I just happened to be browsing Stop & Shop and stumbled upon the mini display … which probably wouldn’t have happened.

I have wanted to try the granola thins for the longest time but since I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate I just couldn’t justify making the purchase. But give me a milk chocolate (which they don’t sell) or a pumpkin pie granola thin and I am all on board.  When I opened the package, I was gifted with a nice pumpkin pie scent.  Taking the first bite I was rewarded with that crumbly granola texture and then a sweet frosting on the bottom of the thin.  A perfect blend of both pumpkin and granola – definitely two thumbs up!

A serving is one thin, which conveniently come packaged in their own individual packs.  A serving is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.  I did find these at Stop & Shop but have yet to see them elsewhere.

Have you tried any of the Nature Valley Granola Thins?

Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese

When fall rolls around and pumpkin items begin to hit shelves at Target, every year I make sure to pick up the Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese. One of my favorite things to get during fall is a Dunkin Donuts multi-grain bagel and pumpkin spice cream cheese. It’s a wonderful match, but it’s so high in points it’s something I enjoy but typically don’t have because it’s really not worth the boatload of points.

The pumpkin spice cream cheese is smooth and creamy, yet slightly softer than regular plain cream cheese.  It’s sweet and undoubtedly pumpkin spice flavored. I enjoy it on bagel slims or even light English muffins. I think it would even be a great addition to baked goods – but that’s a road I have not traveled so I’m not sure how it might turn out.

A serving is 2 tablespoons, which rings in at 80 calories or 2 points plus values. I have only spotted this at Target – but I do know there’s a store brand version at Aldi incase you have that grocery store in your area.

Have you ever tried pumpkin spice cream cheese?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dinner: Ginger Garlic Roasted Pork Loin, Baked Potato & Veggies

This is a tasty dinner we had a few nights ago.  We picked up some pork loin at the local grocery store and I asked the butcher to slice up half of it into chops and leave the other half whole.  After returning home I cut the fat off the sides of the chops, rinsed them and put them into the Knorrs Garlic Ginger roasting bag. I sprinkled the pork on each side with the garlic ginger seasoning and opted to add in some sliced onion and a bag of baby carrots.

The package didn’t call for anything other than the pork to be added to the bag … but I love vegetables with my food so I added them.  Plus ginger garlic carrots sounded amazing.  It was quite simple to throw together, tie the bag shut with the plastic tie and pop it in the oven for 35 minutes and done-so!  The seasoning itself was 1 points plus per serving.

I served the meal up with cooked potato (I went the easy way out and steamed them in the microwave) as well as some fresh steamed green beans.  My pork was 3 ounces, plus the seasoning made it 5 points plus. My entire plate was only 9 points plus and delicious.

Do you like using cooking bags to make a quick, tasty and easy meal?