Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chips and Salsa!

Chili's Copycat Salsa.  It is so good, you'll even dip your finger!

Eight weeks into Weight Watchers and I am on the constant look-out for great, low-point snacks.  My all time favorite is REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups at just 2 points per cup.  But, to satisfy the salty craving, I am loving Kellogg's Special K Sea Salt Cracker Chips with THIS Chili's copycat salsa.  The cracker chips are only 3 points for 30-35 chips (110 calories for 30).  Regular tortilla chips are 140 calories for nine (N-I-N-E!) chips.  I have never been able to eat just nine chips.  Has anyone?!  The salsa is 0 points and I could almost eat it by itself, its that good.  And the recipe is so , SO easy.   At four times the dipping power, this snack is completely satisfying, even when the person next to you is chomping on nachos and a doughnut (shouldn't husbands gain weight too?).  Check out my friend, Michelle, at her blog, A Few of My Favorite Things...To Eat for the salsa recipe.  But be warned, it is addicting!
1 serving of tortilla chips, and I even put 18 in since they looked broken in half.  I'm usually a glass half-full type but when it comes to food, this is half-empty!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bake 52: Week 4


When I found out that I would be hosting in January, I knew I wanted to do a light(er) recipe for all of us New Year's dieters.  The New York Cheesecake called to me, and even though I usually don't consider 320 calories a "light" dessert, its definitely lower than your average cheesecake and it is loaded with healthy protein!  The recipe turned out a beautiful, texture-perfect cheesecake that was tangy sweet and left me wanting more!  And less.  Less time it takes to make it, anyway.  Nine and a half  hours was a little much--and that was without making the 12 hour yogurt cheese, er labne... (oh, you mean Greek yogurt?!).
Having said that, it was actually very easy to make.  And, I quite enjoyed finding yet another use for my beloved Vitamix! I blended all the ingredients in it and it used only a quarter of the time it would have taken in the food processor.   Plus, the result was a super smooth texture.  And now I'm sidetracked on my blender.  Back to cheesecake.  Did I mention it was good.  Very good.  Craving it now, good!  Here are a few tips first and then the recipe.
  1.  Greek yogurt can be used in place of the yogurt cheese.
  2.  Cover crust with plastic wrap before spraying sides of pan with vegetable oil spray.
  3.  Add a dab of red food coloring to the strawberry topping for a picture-perfect color.

LIGHT NEW YORK CHEESECAKE  (8+WW points, 10 with strawberry sauce)

9 whole graham cracker, broken into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

1 pound 1 percent cottage cheese
1 pound light cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces (1 cup) low-fat yogurt cheese* (see end to make yogurt cheese)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
Vegetable oil spray

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1.  FOR THE CRUST:  Adjust an oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Process the graham cracker pieces in a food processor to fine, even crumbs about 30 seconds.  Mix the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar together, then pour into a 9-inch springform pan.  Press the crumbs firmly into an even layer using the bottom of a measuring cup.  Bake the crust until fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack, about 30 minutes.

2.  FOR THE FILLING:  Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.  Line a medium bowl with a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels.  Spoon the cottage cheese into the bowl and let drain for 30 minutes.

 3.  Process the drained cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth and no visible lumps remain, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Dollop the cream cheese and yogurt cheese into the food processor and continue to process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Add the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt and continue to process until smooth, about 1 minute.  With the processor running, add the eggs one at a time and continue to process until smooth.

4.  Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, spray the insides of the spring form pan with vegetable oil spray.  Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.  Pour the processed cheese mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes.

5.  Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake reads 150 degrees, about 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

6.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a paring knife around the edge of the cake.  Let cool until barely arm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, running a paring knife around the edge of the cake every hour or so.  Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

7.  TO UNMOLD THE CHEESECAKE:  Wrap a wet, hot kitchen towel around the springform pan and let stand for 1 minute.  Remove the sides of the pan.  Blot any excess moisture from the top of the cheesecake with paper towels.  Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before slicing.

8.  STRAWBERRY TOPPING:  Toss the strawberries, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have released their juice and the sugar has dissolved, about 30 minutes.  Process the jam in a food processor (or blender) until smooth, about 8 seconds.  Simmer the jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until no longer foamy, about 3 minutes.  Stir the warm jam mixture and the lemon juice into the strawberries.  Let the topping coll to room temperature before serving, about 1 hour.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Per Serving:  Cal 320; Fat 12 g; Sat fat 8 g; Chol 80 mg; Carb 41 g; Protein 11 g; Fiber 0 g; Sodium mg
With topping:  Cal 400; Fat 13 g; Sat fat 8 g; Chol 80 mg; Carb 55 g; Protein 11 g; Fiber 1 g, Sodium 480 mg

*Making Yogurt Cheese:
Line a fine-mesh strainer, set over a deep container, with 3 paper coffee filters or a double layer of cheesecloth.  Spoon 16 ounces (2 cups) plain low-fat yogurt into the lined strainer, cover, and refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours (about 1 cup of liquid will have drained out of the yogurt to yield 1 cup of yogurt cheese).  Transfer the yogurt cheese to a covered container and refrigerate; it will keep for about 1 week. can substitute Greek yogurt and not make it:)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bake 52: Week 3

Boston Cream Cupcakes!

I had been looking forward to these for two weeks and they did not disappoint!  I felt like this was a collaboration of three main stars; The Batter, The Pastry Cream, and The Glaze, that came together for a great production.
See, not pretty, but oh so yummy!
First: The Batter.  Yum!  It was thick and rich and sweet and demanded a few licks.  The recipe called for 1/3 cup for each cupcake, but it also said to not overfill.  1/3 cup looked like it was overfilling, but waste not want not, so I filled it up.  And it overflowed.  Which would have been fine, had I not used a shortcut and only sprayed (liberally though!) the muffin tin instead of the recommended grease and flour technique.  They came out, eventually, but what they lacked in appearance, they made up for in taste!

Second: The Pastry Cream.  Double Yum!  Not just for the taste, which was delicious, but for the aroma when cooking it!  Plus, it gave an element of suspense.  After removing it from the heat I had a small panic attack because all of a sudden it looked curdled and greasy.  I quickly added the butter and vanilla, and poof!  It instantly smoothed to a creamy, take-a-spoonful-of-me texture.  Which my three-year-old did. Again and again.
Don't worry, it was the left-overs.  I'm the only one who gets to double dip:)
Third: The Glaze.  Beautiful with its dark, glossy sheen, seducing the chocolate lover in me to partake.  Which I did and instantly started having second thoughts about it.  More bitter than sweet, I worried that it would corrupt this sweet cupcake.

Look how beautiful, who could resist The Glaze?!   
The Finale.  Moist, rich cake filled with thick, sweet cream topped with dark chocolate glaze--standing ovation!  All together it was dreamy and not a hint of bitterness.  I even used up 12 Weight Watcher points on this little cupcake because it was that good.  Add a cold glass of milk and you get complete satisfaction!  Thanks, Amanda, for this pick!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bake 52: Week 2


Brown. Bran. Bland.  Poor thing, probably the most unpopular and least exciting muffin I can think of.  And one that I would never have invited to my kitchen if not for this baking group.  However...

With the lowest of expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.  Although the dark brown, hard-looking muffins weren't much to look at, inside was soft and moist and the crisp outside gave it a great texture that me and my daughter both liked (its all about the texture with us).  The bran flavor was quit mild and if it wasn't for the raisins I would have enjoyed it.  My picky eater starting eating one before I even took the pictures--and liked it!  The rest of the fam liked them as well, but I found lots of picked out raisins around the kitchen.  Since this wasn't a low calorie muffin, I wish I would have subbed chocolate chips for the raisins or even just eliminated them altogether.  Overall, I guess this muffin is about whats on the inside (an how it affects your inside).  I'm glad I tried a recipe I would have never tried before, and if its bran muffins you want, this would be the recipe to use.  But, I'm a shallow baker and I like my muffins to look as good as they smell and taste, so I won't be making this one again.  For the recipe visit Valerie's blog.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's a good, good day!

Two main reasons today is so great!  First, I have succeeded in staying on WW's for five weeks now (through the holidays no less) and have lost eight pounds!  But what is even better than that is the number 50.  That is the degrees it was today, January the 5th--in Utah!  I usually Hate (yep, with a capital H) January because it is so bitterly cold and miserable, but this whole week has been high 40's and low 50's!  To celebrate here is a yummy WW recipe and a faux Spring Pinterest idea:
                       LOW CALORIE CHEESECAKE BROWNIES 2 Points +  (from  LaaLoosh)


  • Brownie:
  • 2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cream Cheese Topping:
  • 4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat a 7-by-11-inch brownie pan or baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. To make cream cheese topping: Place cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg, flour, yogurt and vanilla; beat until well blended.
  4. To prepare brownie: Whisk whole-wheat flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place egg, egg whites and brown sugar in a large bowl and beat with the electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add applesauce, coffee and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until well blended, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
  5. Scrape about half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Slowly pour the topping evenly on top. Drop the remaining brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two batters to create a swirled effect.
  6. Bake the brownies until the top is just firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 2 hour(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Low calorie, Reduced fat
Number of servings (yield): 24
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)
Entire recipe makes 24 servings
Serving size is 1 brownie
Each serving = 2 Points +

Ever since I took out my tulip bulbs and put in a rock garden eight years ago, I have mourned my tulips every Spring.  But no more!  Pinterest has given me tulips again, and I don't even have to wait for warmer weather.  I plan on forcing some bulbs this week and will post my own tulips when they are ready!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bake 52: Week 1

The Fun Begins With...Quiche

As part of my online baking club, Bake 52, I will be reviewing a recipe every Wednesday this year from the cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen: Family Baking Book, starting today with Quiche!
This was only the second time I've ever made quiche but it was simple and easy, especially when you use a pre-made crust, which I did.  I served it for Sunday dinner and besides my picky three-year-old eater, everyone liked it and my oldest son even went back for seconds!  I love breakfast foods, especially eggs, so this was a treat for me to have for dinner.  My daughter wasn't crazy about the texture, and I have to say, it was kind of tofu-y.  I added ham to it, but next time I think I will try bacon to give it more texture.
Although easy, this is NOT a quick meal.  I didn't plan on how long it took to cook and cool (especially if you make the crust) so the family was super hungry by the time it was ready--my bad!  I didn't serve anything else with it either, but if i had a do-over, there would most definitely be pancakes and orange juice!  Check out  for the recipe.