Sunday, November 30, 2014

Potluck Dish: Cranberry Chili Meatballs

Potlucks or family gatherings where you need a quick and easy "go to" side dish are some of my favorites. We had a potluck at work to celebrate Halloween and I wanted to bring something in that could be a protein for myself and my coworkers. Going back and fourth with what I wanted to bring I decided on meatballs in a crock pot. Avoiding the typical meatball and sauce route I opted to go with a cranberry sauce and chili sauce mixture.
The end result is a delicious sweet, spicy, tangy sauce that coats the meatballs. The longer this simmers in the crock pot, the better it tastes. If it is simmering for a while, I do add a little bit of water to avoid the sauce from burning.
The end result is a crowd pleaser, tasty and a moderately "point friendly" dish. The below makes one bag of meatballs, but if you want to make two - just use double the ingredients (double cranberry, chili sauce, meatballs and water).
1 bag frozen turkey meatballs
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 bottle chili sauce
1/4 cup water
Add all ingredients to a crock pot, turn on low and allow to heat for 2 1/2+ hours (or as long as you want - the longer it cooks the better).

Corn Chowder

Living in New England chowders are "the thing" but considering I'm not the biggest fan of seafood ... my love of chowders are very limited. Limited as in ... corn chowder is where it's at. Growing up my mother would make corn chowder every once in a while. My mom would make two renditions - one with cream or one with canned evaporated milk. Both are delicious - but the evaporated milk is definitely lighter.
I simmer my chowder with the corn cobs in it because it helps develop the corn flavor. The flavoring/juices are within the cob and boiling it it helps infuse that flavor ... otherwise one might end up with a slightly bland dish. If you aren't able to find corn on the cob, you can always skip and use frozen sweet corn.
The consistency of this is slightly thicker than that of a soup, but it's certainly not as thick as a stew. You could add a little cornstarch and water mixture to the end result if you're looking for it to be thicker.
Serves 8. 4 Points Plus Values. 1 Cup serving size.
* 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 1 tbsp margarine
* 4 medium corn on the cob, corn cut off cobs (make sure you keep cobs they go in the soup)
* 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 1 cup skim milk
* 3 cups water
* 12 oz can fat free evaporated milk
* 2 tbsp flour
* Salt, to taste
* Black pepper, to taste (you can use white pepper if you wish but I prefer black)
In a large soup pot over medium heat, add in olive oil and saute bell pepper and onion. Cook until onion is translucent and bell pepper has softened.
Add margarine to pan, sprinkle cooked vegetables with flour, stir gingerly until flour is cooked out and no longer visible.

Season with salt and pepper then add in corn kernels, hash brown potatoes, corn cobs and allow mixture to cook together gently for 2-3 minutes. Add in water, skim milk and evaporated milk - cover pot with a lid and allow the chowder to come to a slow boil.
Adjust seasonings and allow chowder to simmer for roughly 40 minutes.

Snikiddy Baked Mac 'n Cheese Puffs

I have a weakness for cheese puffs, so when I spotted these Snikiddy Baked Mac 'n Cheese Puffs at the grocery store, I had to give them a try. I mean, mac 'n cheese transformed into a cheese puff? C’mon! Plus for the serving size (& points plus value) alone I was sold.

The puffs are your average cheese puffs. For the most part they’re smaller in size compared to your average cheese puff on the market. These are white in color but they do have just a slight hue of orange to them. In all honestly, their shape, size and color remind me of packing peanuts. Flavor wise they reminded me of Jax cheese curls, except not as cheesy and finger staining messy. I wouldn’t say they scream mac n cheese but the cheese curls do have that classic cheddar cheese flavor to them ... but ideally the more you eat the more they taste like regular cheese puffs.

They're good and a serving is plentiful. Definitely something I would repurchase in the future (and already have).

A serving is 1 oz (roughly 60 puffs) is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Emily Bites Bubble Up Pizza Casserole

I have seen some of the recipes from the Emily Bites website all over Instagram. A few of them really peaked my interest - enough that I pinned them on Pinterest, picked up a few ingredients to have on hand and dropped them into my meal plans for the week. One of those was the Emily Bites Bubble Up Pizza Casserole.
Admitedly the first time I tried to make this recipe I was looking at the ingredients on pinterest (which weren't complete). I opted to use bisquik as a crust and it was a total fail. The next time I made it, I got the recipe off the website and it came out to be amazingly delicious. The dish is comforting, a dead ringer for pizza and a perfect meal to have alongside salad.
What I liked the most is that the recipe can be adapted to use any ingredients you enjoy on pizza. Add more vegetables, substitute veggies, add diced tomatoes, etc. It's versatile, just as your average pizza pie is.
I did mix up my pizza a little bit - opting to skip the olives (because I just couldn't find the can I thought I had), added peppers and onions.
The serving was generous, satisfying and a dish I'll undoubtedly make again. Plus it's only 319 calories or 8 points plus values.

Valrhona LE Lait 29% Cacao Milk Chocolate

Let me take a moment to introduce you to a little gem I found at Trader Joe's one afternoon ... and have since repurchased a handful of times. One day at checkout I noticed some chocolate bars and curiosity got the best of me so I picked one up. Checking out the nutrition facts and being completely wowed, I tossed one in my basket and decided I'd give it a try.
Upon giving it a try .. that's when the Valrhona LE Lait 29% Cacao Milk Chocolate became my new favorite candy bar. The chocolate is considered to be gourmet chocolate ... which in my opinion is exactly that. It's smooth, it's creamy, it melts in your mouth ... and it has that rich chocolate flavor that I tend to only find in European chocolates. A bar houses 7 small squares which when eaten slowly is like a delicacy. A delicacy that also feels like it's a lot more loaded with calories/points plus values that it is. It makes for enjoying chocolate to be more of an enjoyable experience over a guilty pleasure.
The bar also comes in a dark chocolate variety but since I'm not the biggest dark chocolate fan I stuck with the milk. I do have a bar of dark to try one day ... but so far, the milk chocolate is phenomenal.  Plus for 99 cents per bar, you're getting quite a fabulous bar of chocolate for under a dollar.
A bar (which is also a serving) is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Covered Swedish Fish

I took a trip to Maine this past weekend and since I was with my niece we popped into one of the candy stores in Kittery, Yummies. It's floor to ceiling candy and all kinds - old school, new school and unique finds that one may have never known existed.
One of those things I never knew existed were Chocolate Covered Swedish Fish. Now, I LOVE swedish fish ... there's something about that chewy, cherry flavored fish that I've always enjoyed. They're also available in lemon and lime flavor. But when I saw them covered in chocolate I had my doubts. I couldn't quite wrap my brain around how it would taste. But deciding to give it a shot ... I picked it up.
These particular ones are the cherry flavored fish which are coated in a smooth layer of milk chocolate. The cherry flavor mixed with the chocolate tastes along the lines of a chocolate covered cherry. The flavors mixed together are out of this world deliciousness. For something that I thought would be gross to try turned out to be a fabulous treat. So fabulous in fact this is going to be one of the treats I make for Christmas to hand out to friends and family!
For those Weight Watchers folks - I don't know the points on these, but once I do make them I'll figure out points/servings/etc.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Glenny's 100 Calorie Chocolate Chip Brownie

One morning the gentleman who replenishes the vending machine at work came in and left some "healthy treats" on the table for my coworkers and I to sample. There weren't very many items but the one that caught my eye was the Glenny's 100 Calorie Chocolate Chip Brownie. I took a quick glance at the nutrition facts and brought the package back to my desk to tuck away in my desk.
After needing an afternoon pick-me-up I decided to open the brownie to have a snack. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised ... the brownie was pretty big, far larger than a serving if I were to make boxed brownies. The brownies texture is a mix between cake and fudgy and had chocolate chips running throughout the dessert. For only 100 calories it was perfection - chocolatey, tasty and pretty satisfying.
For being pretty packed with fiber (7g) and protein (4g) they definitely do not have that fiber taste that can be found in some Fiber One products. These aren't hard on the stomach, haven't made me feel bloated or uncomfortable. They're delicious straight out of the package, while I also find them to be a perfect addition to a dessert to make it feel a little "sinful". Brownie sundae anyone?!
A package is a serving, which is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

While out running errands, it was well past lunch time and I needed something in my belly. Not really sure what I wanted, I decided to head to Wendy's for lunch since I knew off the top of my head they had some "point friendly" items. Plus out of all the fast food burger joints they are one of my favorite.
Of course when I got there I wasn't sure what I wanted, so I whipped out my phone and looked up Wendy's foods on my Weight Watchers app. I decided to get one of their salads to give it a try. I opted for the half salad (it also comes in a full size) and ordered the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad.
According to the website the dish is: "Topped with fire-roasted edamame, spicy roasted cashews, warm, grilled chicken and Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette for a salad that's anything but bland."
A full size salad is 380 calories or 10 points plus values (this includes the cashews, dressing, chicken, and bed of salad), or a half size (pictured above) is 240 calories and 6 points plus values (this includes the cashews, dressing, chicken, and bed of salad).
If you order the salad and skip on the cashews and dressing it brings the half size salad down to 3 points plus values. If you add the cashews back on, skipping the dressing, it'll add on 2 points plus values making it 5 points plus values.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream

Admittedly, when I first saw the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream it was intriguing (because I'm a sucker for pumpkin anything) but also slightly daunting. I've tried mochi before and with texture issues I didn't enjoy the strawberry flavor. Figuring I'd give it a shot after hearing how good they were, I popped a box in my shopping cart and went home with them.
The dessert is shaped like a round ball, which has a smooth, dry -- almost play-doh feel to it. It's dusted with what looks like flour. The mochi shell is chewy in texture, slightly gummy and doesn't have much of a flavor to it. It's rather on the plain side and seems to be odd or foreign even. The ice cream inside the mochi is where it's at. It's a smooth, creamy, pumpkin pie ice cream which tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. It really packs a punch and left the pumpkin lover within satisfied. Together it's a unique and pretty delicious treat.
1 mochi is a serving, which is 100 calories or 3 points plus values.

Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing

I've been getting bored of my plain ole regular salads to the point that I would take a few bites and would end up throwing the rest away ... or not even touching it.That's in part to the fact that I've allowed myself to get bored. I make the same "type" of salad and relay on 2 salad dressings to kick it up a notch ... but in reality, it's not enough anymore.
While at Walmart, picking up a few items to jazz up my week I picked up a bottle of the Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing. I'm not the biggest fan of cilantro, but I figured it would be a different flavor and something that would go good with, say, a taco salad. With that in mind, I whipped up a batch of taco meat for lunches for the week and have been using the dressing alongside it and I have to say, it's pretty delicious.
The dressing is smooth and creamy and 2 tablespoons, when mixed into greens really does go along way. It's flavorful, without being overly bold. The cilantro flavoring is very mild which I think is in part of the added avocado. It's along the lines of a ranch dressing, but it doesn't have that zip that comes with ranch. It's got a pretty good flavor and blends well with really whatever you decide to add to a salad. 
A serving is 2 tablespoons which is 40 calories or 1 points plus values.

Dinner: Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

I purchased a quesadilla maker after wanting one for a very, very long time. I love Mexican dishes but don't ever really go out to restaurants to order them. So to break in my quesadilla maker, I decided to make chicken and cheese quesadillas for dinner one day. The idea turned out to be a spectacular and very filling dinner.
I had made shredded chicken in the crock pot (4 oz) and mixed it with a little bit of medium chunky salsa. I layered it in between 2 Joseph's wheat flax tortillas and added 1 ounce of shredded Mexican cheese to it. Popped it onto the quesadilla maker until the tortilla was crunchy and the chicken and cheese melted together.
I served it up, cutting it into 6 pieces and served it with 1/2 cup Spanish rice and a side salad topped with fat free poppy seed dressing. Overall it was a delicious dinner and a crowd pleaser. All this food was only 10 points plus values!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter is one of those magnificent little jars of wonder. So when I saw that they had transformed their cookie butter into ice cream, I was all for it. I was especially all for it after trying a sample at the store one afternoon. That's when the container of Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream jumped into my grocery cart and made a temporary home in my freezer.

The dessert is your classic vanilla ice cream that has swirls, chunks and bits of cookie butter running throughout it. Cookie butter on its own is rather sweet ... so when mixed with sweet vanilla ice cream it becomes a rich and decadent dessert. It's certainly something you can enjoy in small doses without feeling sick from the sugar overload. The ice cream itself is smooth and creamy and the cookie butter adds a little bit of gritty texture to it.
It's the real deal when it comes to ice cream and I find it's something one can enjoy from time to time. I find the serving is more than enough because it can be very rich.
A 1/2 cup serving is 220 calories or 6 points plus values.

Rice Krispies Treats Blasted S'mores

I remember growing up as a kid and loving whenever my mom made my brother and I homemade rice krispy treats. There's something about plain ole rice krispies mixed with marshmallow goodness. As I've aged I haven't made rice krispy treats in a very long time .. so when I spotted these Rice Krispies Treats Blasted S'mores I figured they'd be a great treat to have once in a while.
Since I do enjoy my occasional sweets at times I was intrigued by the S'mores flavor. When I opened the packaged, I was surprised to see bits of graham cracker and chocolate bits scattered amongst the top of the treat. The rice krispies treat was the classic crispy cereal mixed with in a gooey marshmallow making the treat sweet, chewy and crispy.
They're a perfect little treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Each bar is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Haul: Empower Skipfit Cardio Skipper

Growing up I had a Skip-It which was a hard plastic "ball" that was attached to a plastic type rope that had a plastic ring you'd slip over your foot. The goal was to skip along, continuing to move the ball around your ankle, while "skipping/jumping" over the ball as many times as you could. To keep score, the ball had a little counter that would count (and eventually reset) your number of skips. It was a great workout for kids and one of my favorite items to play with when outside.  Needless to say, while I was at Kohl's I found this Empower Skipfit Cardio Skipper on the fitness display (near the shoe section) and I was so intrigued I snatched one off the shelf.
Admittedly, when I checked the price and it came up to be $19.99 I wanted to put it back. Then I googled it and couldn't find it offered anywhere online (particularly Amazon) so I decided just to pick it up and put it away for next spring/summer as an outdoor activity I can do at home.
This version is a plastic/nylon type ball that's attached to a fabric rope that has a fabric loop that would go around your ankle. Sure, the weather is less than stellar these days (cold/rainy) and the winter is on its way .. but it'll be a nice workout to bust out when the weather starts to cooperate.

Trader Joe's Kalamata Olive Hummus

I'm a huge fan of hummus, but it wasn't until 6 or so years ago that I started trying flavored hummus' instead of the traditional kind. Since shopping at Trader Joe's I find their flavored hummus' are a section of the store I always hope to see expand. Time and time again I've seen the Trader Joe's Kalamata Olive Hummus but I had refrained from purchasing it out of plain hesitance.
I can't really say what I was hesitant ... I love hummus and enjoy kalamata olives but I think it was the idea of putting the two together that was concerning? Since I was on the hunt for new flavors to change things up, I picked up a container. I brought it ti work to layer on my wrap for a sandwich and I'm glad I did.
The hummus itself is utterly delicious. It's your classic creamy hummus that has bits and pieces of kalamata olives running throughout it here or there. The olives giving off only a subtle amount of saltiness. The creaminess from the hummus itself not allowing the salty olive to overpower it. I found it to be a perfect addition to a sandwich, or even a creamy complimentary side to a salad. Nonetheless this has turned out to be one of my favorite Trader Joe's brand hummus.

A serving, 2 tbsp is 60 calories or 1 points plus values.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lunch @ Pizzeria Regina's

I had an appointment around Boston and since I got there a little early, I decided to stop for lunch since I knew it would be a while before I was able to eat. I wasn't really sure of where any restaurants might be, but on the way over an overpass I could see a standing Pizzeria Regina's restaurant ... so I pulled into the parking lot and headed inside.
Glancing over the menu nothing really called out to me. I knew since I was in a pizza shop (one of the best in Boston if I might say so myself) I knew I wanted a slice of pizza. But the only downside was ... I could not find slices mentioned anywhere on the dine-in menu. When the waitress came over to take drink orders, I asked if I could order a slice of pizza and low-and-behold I could! Score!
I knew having a single slice of pizza wouldn't satisfy me until dinner time, I opted to order a entree side salad to share with my mother who came along with me to my appointment. The house salad sounded good ... but what was brought to the table looked like a work of art. All the vegetables were cut up perfectly and a fork dipped in salad dressing was all I needed because the toppings were so flavorful.  The house salad came with mixed greens topped with cherry tomatoes, carrot slivers, red onion rings, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, marinated chick peas, baby spinach and croutons (which I asked to be served on the side).
Salad with a slice of cheese pizza was the perfect lunch - which was satisfying and filling.

Weight Watchers Friendly Peach Cobbler

I was going to a friends Halloween party one afternoon. Since I don't like going to parties empty handed I decided I was going to make a dessert. Going back and fourth with my options I wasn't feeling that inspired to make any particular dish. Knowing I had to make something or buy something I headed to the grocery store. After a back and fourth battle in the baking aisle ... I decided to make a friendly version of peach cobbler. I picked up a few of the essential ingredients: yellow cake mix and canned peaches.
It's essentially a dump cake, similar to the berry dump cake, etc. It's very easy to put together, except when you're waiting (sometimes impatiently) for it to bake it does take some time.  The end result is well worth it. The cake mix makes a bit of a crust over the peaches which is crisp and chewy and the peaches and cake mix make a bit of a thickened "sauce". It's perfect served by itself, topped with a dollop of whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream.
Serves 12 - 4 Points Plus Values.
* 1 box, Betty Crocker, Yellow Cake Mix
* 32 ounce canned peaches (in water/light syrup)
* 12 ounce can Diet Sprite
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Drain juice out from peaches - make sure to reserve juice.
Place peaches into the bottom of pan - top with dry cake mix. Pour can of diet sprite over cake mix and set the pan in the oven. Allow to bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/3 of the juice over the top of the cake mix.
Place pan back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.

Yoplait Greek Pumpkin Cheesecake Greek Yogurt

There aren't many occasions where I eat a yogurt that isn't light ... that is I tend to make exceptions when it comes to banana flavored yogurts or pumpkin flavored yogurts. I'd been told the Yoplait Greek 2% Pumpkin Cheesecake Yogurt was delicious ... so when I spotted it on shelves, I picked up a cup to give it a whirl.
I'm a self proclaimed pumpkin addict and I have been hoping to find a Greek pumpkin flavored yogurt (outside of the one available at Trader Joe's). I was particularly hoping for a light Greek yogurt [maybe next year?!] but Greek pumpkin yogurt will do the trick.
The yogurt is undoubtedly pumpkin. It's got a very smooth and creamy nature to it, similar to that of cheesecake. There's some nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice lingering in there which make it quite yummy. It's not as zippy/tart as some Greek yogurts and has some natural sweetness to it which cuts back on the general tartness of the yogurt. Overall, it was quite good ... definitely something one could enjoy here and there when on the hunt for a pumpkin greek yogurt.
Each container is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Conquering a new Exercise: Spinning

With the change of the seasons comes a new class schedule at my gym. Typically with each change to the schedule it's an addition of a new class - usually a some version of a cardio class or just a different instructor teaching one of the classes already offered. That is until the new schedule rolled around for this fall introducing Spin Classes!
Now I have never taken a spin class in my life before this experience. I have seen people taking spin on videos and I've seen photos/Instagram postings of people taking spin class. I've always heard how great of a workout it was, yada yada ... but in the back of my mind I always had a small inkling of "well, that's got to be slightly boring." Why would I think that initially? Well, my gym has stationary bikes in the gym out in the workout area and I've tried to workout on them and it's just SO BORING to me. Like, why do I want to peddle and stare at this carpeted wall in front of me?
Since spin is held in the aerobics room I signed up (my gym was hosting a full day of introductory classes) and made my way to the gym for a 7:15 class. I had no excuses, no reservations and I went in with an open mind. After my instructor set us all up so we'd workout properly without hurting ourselves .. I found I actually LOVE the workout!
The instructor got us (or me?) pumped and motivated to keep going. There were three different "speeds" (low, medium, high) and we could essentially go at our own pace. There's no competition, there's no right or wrong way (other than safe) and the one thing I loved was that it was very low impact and it was killer, killer cardio. I have arthritis in one of my knees pretty bad (I wear a knee brace to most classes) and it did not hurt my knee whatsoever. All I know is after 35 minutes I was sweating like I did 2 hours of high intensity zumba.  The only downside is the seat is VERY uncomfortable and will leave you feeling sore for a few days prior ... but other than that, I'm a spin-lover and plan on frequenting the Tuesday night class from here on out.
That was my "do something out of the box"  ... and I found something I actually quite enjoy and will continue to do! Now the only "hard part" about it is hoping to get a coin to get into the class because there's only so many bikes!

Trader Joe's Green Tea Inflused Mints

The past few months I have been finding I'm getting into green tea. For a long time I wasn't a fan because I thought it tasted blah - but with all the benefits that come from it, I decided to give it a shot ... and found I truly do enjoy it. Searching for the Trader Joe's Green Tea Infused Mints over the course of a few shopping trips I was finally able to get my hands on a tin.
I like having mints on me because there are times where after a meal you feel you just need something. While they're also good if one were to get cotton mouthed it'd help relieve the situation.  I asked the cashier if he had tried the mints and was advised that he had and said they're "they're a mild green tea flavor."
After trying them ... I have to say I agree. The green tea flavor is there, but there's also a mint flavor along with it that's very mild and pleasant. It's not nearly as bold as say, an Altoid. It's got a minimal amount of sweetness, mintiness and green tea flavor for it to be quite enjoyable.  They're also cutely shaped (like a leaf) - not your standard round mint.
A serving is 3 mints, which are 10 calories or 0 points plus values.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dannon Light & Fit Greek Caramel Apple Pie

I've mentioned it time and time before ... Greek yogurt is my favorite yogurt and typically the only "type" of yogurt I purchase. I've heard great things about the Dannon Light & Fit Greek Caramel Apple Pie yogurt so when I finally spotted it on shelves at Wal-Mart I picked a couple up.
Needless to say I'm glad I picked up a couple because this yogurt is pretty amazing. It's delicious - filled with bits of apples. The apple flavor is right up there with the caramel being in the background. The caramel isn't blatantly artificial or offensive. The two flavors blend together effortlessly leaving a delicious flavored breakfast, snack or dessert. I've enjoyed it on its own while also with some cooked cinnamon apples. Out of the two limited edition caramel apple flavored greek yogurts out on the market right now ... this one undoubtedly takes the cake.
A serving is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.

Trader Joe's OH Pumpkin Caramel Kringle

The last few times I've gone to Trader Joe's I've noticed the new dessert they had on their dessert table. At first, I didn't quite know what it was ... and since it's in a wax paper bag I couldn't see it ... so I wasn't quite tempted (that is aside from it listing "Pumpkin Caramel" on the label (which made me want it site unseen). Then one afternoon on a trip to Trader Joe's the OH Pumpkin Caramel Kringle was the sample of the day. And after that sample ... I was hooked and picked up 2 frozen Kringle's to take home (I purchased 2 because the crew member advised they'd be good until Thanksgiving with it being frozen). Having dinner guests over, I left one out overnight to defrost and cut it up into serving sizes prior to dinner.
The dessert is sold as a round ring, which is made of a flaky pastry crust which has a caramel "frosting" along the top of it with a sprinkle of chopped pecans throughout. It's a danish dessert - very similar to a danish but the filling is completely encased in the flaky pastry dough. It's filled with a thin layer of pumpkin which tastes like the inside of pumpkin pie. The frosting on the top of it gives it added sweetness and the pecans give it that subtle crunch that's needed to balance it all out. The texture of the kringle is soft but not so soft it'll fall apart.
Overall it's quite delicious ... sweet, but not sickeningly so. It's perfect with a cup of coffee, as an after dinner dessert ... or if you're like me, your dessert before dinner. It's satisfying enough that a serving size is more than enough.
A serving, 1/12th of the kringle is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons

I remember seeing macarons talked about all over the place. Unfortunately they're not an item that is readily available in my area. That's where Trader Joe's steps into play because it has been the only store that I have been able to find macarons. Granted, they're not freshly made daily at a bakery ... but it's the closest to the real deal I'm going to get. I've tried the different varieties of macarons at Trader Joe's ... so needless to say when I spotted the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons I was on board before I could bat a lash.
Macarons are a delicious french dessert made from meringue confection which are filled with a delicious, complimentary spread. They resemble a cookie, but are soft, slightly crisp (along the 'crust') and just all around perfection. These pumpkin macarons have that slightly crisp edge to them as all macarons tend to have ... but I found the filling in these to be a lot softer and airier than the filling in other cookies. The pumpkin filling has the consistency of say a whipped pumpkin dip - where it's pumpkin flavored, but light and airy in texture. It's not bad, but it's just different from the 'norm' so to speak.
I found the cookies to be quite delicious. Airy, soft, delicious and pumpkin packed. They're definitely not for the anti-pumpkin club but if you enjoy a good different pumpkin dessert .. these pumpkin macarons are for you. Plus there's no long baking process involved ... all you have to do is allow the cookies to defrost and whatever you don't eat goes right into the refrigerator.
A serving is 2 cookies which are 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels

Whenever I'm in a chocolate or candy mood ... I find myself gravitating towards with Trader Joe's has to offer. There's something about the quality of the confection that comes out of the store that leaves my taste buds happy. Since I tend to enjoy caramels I was intrigued when I spotted a bag of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels. So of course they had to come home with me.
The bag describes them as "Creamy vanilla caramels covered with premium dark chocolate". Admittedly, I'm not a huge dark chocolate fan ... but what I was buying these for was the caramel, not the chocolate. I cracked open the bag to share with my mother and ate a few and was not impressed. Truthfully, I did not like them. They were what I would call ... power house vanilla (and I like vanilla) while also maintaining a certain level of saltiness. The caramel was very, very soft and not really chewy. It was coated in a semi-thick coating of dark chocolate. My mother enjoyed them, so I happened to give her the whole bag because I had my fair share after a few pieces.
A bag is a serving, which is 270 calories or 7 points plus values.