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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Picnic Party

Wow, today had everything that Memorial Day should have, pool party, parade, red/white/blue clothing, hot hot sun, and all the best barbecue foods.  My mom made a DELICIOUS grilled corn salad and I am going to ask her to send me the recipe and I will put it up here for you all to enjoy! We also had grilled flank steak, my favorite type of beef.  My sister made beer bread, so yummy! AND Brownie sundaes for dessert.  Seriously, you are all going to try to get invited to our family party for next year right.  Well I thought I would share what I brought since they are two of my backyard barbecue favorites.  If you read my facebook recipes before I started blogging you may have already seen this one. Here it is again...

Siam Peanut Ramen Slaw

16 oz packaged coleslaw mix
2 pkg ramen noodles (no seasoning)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 oz honey roasted peanuts
4 Tbsp butter (I used light and therefore point values are based on this)
1/2 cup diced scallions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup dark sesame oil (you can use olive oil if you don't want to buy sesame, I keep it on hand for Asian food but small bottle, expensive, I understand...Also the original recipe called for a cup, when putting the recipe into my points calculator I decided it always seems to have almost too much sauce so I decreased it to 1/2 cup and it tasted just fine!)
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar (again any vinegar will do, although maybe not balsamic, but I use rice for my Asian cooking)
Peanut sauce (bottled)

Mix coleslaw, almonds and peanuts.  Break up ramen noodles and stir in.  Add scallions and cilantro. Melt butter and pour over mixture and toss to coat.  Mix oil, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar in a separate dish and set aside.  Pour over coleslaw mixture 1 1/2 hrs before serving.  At time of serving, retoss, and then drizzle with peanut sauce.  The equivalent of 1 tsp per serving.  This makes about 18 servings of 2/3 of a cup, 6 pts.

The next item on the menu is a fun way to call a dessert a fruit/jello dish.  You may have seen this before...

I modified it a little to look like this:
Strawberry Pretzel Squares

I flip flopped the cream cheese/cool whip layer and the jello layer so I could top it with fruit and make it patriotic.  I also took great pains in slimming this down as well as I could.  Some things are not worth substituting I think.  Here's how this one goes:

2 cups crushed pretzels (use fat free)
1/2 cup sugar divided
2/3 cup butter (I used light)
12 oz cream cheese (I used low fat neufchatel)
2 Tbsp milk (I use 1/2 percent)
1 cup cool whip (Lite)
3 1/2 cups water divided
2 pkg Strawberry Jello (fat free, sugar free)
4 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries

Melt butter in microwave.  Pour over crushed pretzels and 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Mix well and then press into 9 x 13.  Make jello using 2 cups boiling water and 1 1/2 cups of cold water.  Set in fridge for 1 1/2 hrs, add 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries. Spoon over crust and return to fridge to set.  This may take 3 or more hours so don't wait till the last minute like I did and then stay up until 1:30 am.  Beat together cream cheese, milk and the other 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.  Gently fold in cool whip.  Spread over set jello.  Decorate with other fruit for a patriotic feel.  If you cut it into 15 pieces it is 5 pts a piece, thanks to my slimming down! I think it tasted just as yummy as the original too. 

So there you have it, two picnic favorites.  I hope you all had a good time today too.  Hopefully you weren't like my Mom's neighbor who was mowing and weed-whipping and chain-sawing down trees all afternoon long.  Ugh, no fun for him and no fun for us listening to him.  Hey buddy, we are trying to swim here...Kidding.  So I will anxiously await my Mom's corn recipe (hint hint) and until then Summer is officially here. (It's 85 in my house at 10 pm and my kids JUST fell asleep, boo to no air conditioning).  Goodnight everyone!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Indian and American

Well it's Memorial Weekend and we are having an equal amount of fun family time and hard work.  We are busy as bees trying to conquer the beast that is our yard.  My husband is getting a back rub from his own personal PT in a little while after a full day of yard work.  In addition to helping him weed and get our vegetables planted, I went to Meijers and spent a small fortune in groceries and yard accessories and well who could resist patriotic tshirts for my family for $3.99! Just trying to help the economy I guess. It is hard work cooking healthy and interesting meals and it is very expensive.  I read an article about how to make your blog make you money, maybe I need to start advertising on the margins, I even read about one food blog where companies gave them money for groceries for endorsing their products.  Hmmm....I think you guys need to make me more popular before I can qualify for that.  I have been loving when you tell me you are making a recipe, makes me feel like I am not just doing this for my own kicks (well maybe I am!)

Yesterday was book club Friday and we read the book Splendor of Silence which took place in India and although it was in the past (1940's) you really felt immersed in the scenery and culture of the country. And really I can only listen to them talk about curry and coriander and cilantro and cumin (the 4 c's) without getting a hankering for some Indian food.  So I found a really easy recipe (embellished it as always) and came up with a delightful little Indian dish that was SO easy, we are talking crock pot people....

Coconut Curry Tikka Masala

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 can of coconut milk (I used lite)
1 jar of Tikka Masala sauce
2 tsp curry
2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp each of roasted ground coriander, dried cilantro, ground black pepper, ginger, chili pepper and cumin
1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro (have you noticed how much I use of this stuff!)

Instructions: Throw everything (minus fresh cilantro) in crock pot on high/6hrs and let sit.  Throw fresh cilantro in just before serving.  Makes 8 servings, 4pts each, serve with.....

Coconut Basmati Rice

1 1/2 cups water
1 can coconut milk (again I used lite)
2 teaspoons (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups diced colored peppers
2 cups basmati rice (about 13 ounces), well rinsed, drained
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
1/2 cup to 1 cup cilantro (seriously you can't have too much can you...)

Combine water, coconut milk, sugar, and salt in heavy large saucepan. Add diced peppers.  Bring to simmer, then stir in rice. Cover, leaving slight opening for steam to escape. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 12 minutes. Cover tightly, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Transfer rice to bowl;stir in cilantro and sprinkle with toasted coconut. 

The rice is more point heavy then the meat, again 8 servings and one serving is 6 pts, but added to the meat/sauce its only 10 pts and we served it with Garlic Naan (Indian flatbread) which a big sheet of Naan divided in 4 pieces each piece is only 1 pt.  So my yummy Indian dinner was about 11 pts which is really pretty good.  Meijers sells Naan now in the bakery, I feel very ethnic buying it! But if you can't find it you could eat it with any kind of flat bread. It's a good way to sop up that yummy sauce on your plate.  So that was it, we had the full Indian experience and it was SO easy. Now don't you all think you can rush right out there and try it too and be able to say casually in conversation, "Oh well I think I'll just make some Indian food for dinner tonight..." and with crockpot meals, you seriously can get the meal made in 10 minutes at lunch time and then sit back and smell the aromas kicking in all day!  Nice, right?

So for dessert we decided to embrace our American side, I mean it is Memorial weekend after all.  Besides the Indian dessert they talked about in my book was some milky custard that they looked in a greenhouse full of roses so that rose scented dew covered the custard, come on now, I am not that insane.  Of course this was a party for the royalty so maybe not every family in India is having rose flavored custard.  Anyways so for our All American dessert we made...

Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches

Take chocolate chip cookies with red/white/blue M&M's, add 1/4 cup ice cream (ours was breyer's cookies and cream) and roll the edges in red/white/blue sprinkles.  Refreeze for 2 hrs (and it's good to do something exhausting like yard work during this time so you have something to look forward to when you get your work done).  Now these are NOT healthy, but hey I have enough pts today to splurge on one of these 8pt little monsters (I actually still have 5 pts after that too! What to do? I better have some milk to wash it down...).  I haven't had it yet, this blog entry was on my to-do list yet tonight and I don't get one until all my work is done. But let's see what these All American girls think...

They seemed pretty happy I think! So much fun yet to be had this weekend.  Working outside and in as a family is great bonding time and listening to my dorky Patriotic Playlist on iTunes.  We even lined our sidewalk with tiny American flags, it was fun. Well maybe I will show off all our hard work when we get it done, who am I kidding, with a yard like mine it will never be done.  Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cilantro Lime Fiesta!

Maybe you haven't already heard, so I'll say it again, I wouldn't want you to be uninformed.....I lost 3.2 lbs for a total of 15 lbs since I began this journey! Yea! So happy.  Thanks for all your support, it sounds silly but having you read my blog has spurred me on, I am fully encouraged by you to do well.  Thanks from the bottom of my heart, I am praying for continued success and God's protection over my endeavor to be healthy.

For dinner tonight I am using my new cookbook, Jillian Michael's "Master Your Metabolism Cookbook".  When I read the book by the same name I LOVED all her recipes and so I was happy she followed it up with a full cookbook.  Now yesterday for lunch I made a quiche recipe and I gotta say I wasn't thrilled with how it turned out.  So I spared you the details of that one! Tonight however was a different story, I started with a steak recipe and made up a side dish that was to die for and carried the same flavors throughout the meal, check this out...

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves (the italics indicate I swapped cilantro for parsley because I a.) had it on hand, b.) it became the premise for my meal and c.) the only other time I have made chimichurri it also used cilantro so I figured it would be OK!)
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra- virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • Olive oil spray, for the grill
In the work bowl of a food processor, place the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the cilantro and oregano leaves, and pulse until the herbs are coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Place the skirt steak in a shallow pan and pour 1/3 cup of the chimichurri sauce over it. Turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate, preferably for at least four hours and up to overnight. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce.
If using a gas or charcoal grill, spray the grill with olive oil and prepare a medium-hot grill. If using a grill pan, spray it with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Grill the steak for four to five minutes per side for medium-rare. Let stand on a cutting board for 5 to 10 minutes. Thinly slice the steak and divide among four plates. Top each serving with one generous teaspoon of chimichurri sauce and serve.
9 pts

So then I made a big batch of:
 Grilled Veges (broccoli and peppers)
I thought what if I carry the flavor through the other dishes and I seasoned them olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, Mrs Dash's Fiesta Lime Seasoning, Mrs Dash's Steak Grilling Blend and fresh cilantro

Then I had a bag of Yoder's mashed potatoes, you may be thinking how disgusting.  Really they aren't like fake potato flakes which I used to use back in the day (yikes) They actually are pretty good but when I heat them they are usually a little dry so I end up adding some milk to them.  But then I thought, hmmmm cilantro lime fiesta mashed potatoes and I started adding a little of this and a little of that and I came out with, no joke, the most DE-LISH potatoes (which was a relief because half way through I thought oh no what if these are disgusting, SO not.  The only trouble was limiting my self to a 1/2 cup serving!) If the yoders thing freaks you out, go ahead and waste a whole bunch of time peeling and boiling potatoes but your result probably won't be much different, I'm just saying...

Cilantro Lime Fiesta Mashed Potatoes (an Amanda Travis original)

A 32 oz bag of Yoder's Mashed Potatoes
1/2 cup finely shredded Mexican cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/4 cup scallions diced
1/2 cup Stonyfield low fat organic plain yogurt
4 Tbsp low fat milk
1 Tbsp lime juice
Garlic salt and Mrs Dash's Fiesta Lime seasoning and Mrs. Dash's Steak Grilling Blend

Warm all ingredients together on the stove.  1/2 cup is 5 pts but SOOOO worth 5 pts.  They were really really good. 

So that is what was for dinner tonight.  I took cilantro and ran with it, I figure 15# deserves a fiesta, and it was great!  Hope you all are enjoying the nice weather and have something to celebrate yourself today, tis the season for fresh cooking! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaack!

Well my last post was Mother's Day weekend and then I got laryngitis and the last two weeks were rough.  My voice just came back Tue, I had lost it for NINE days.  Anyways, I am back in the saddle again.  Tonight I am just going to bring you a simple little recipe that has been a favorite of mine for years.  I started doing Dream Dinners when I was pregnant with my first born and for about 3 years I did it really regularly.  People think it is super expensive but if you consider how I tend to cook rather elaborately it was a lot less expensive truly.  However our local branch went belly up, apparently not too many others felt it was worth the cost. Every now and then when I am feeling ambitious I will do my own version in my kitchen and cook a ton of meals and freeze them.  But mysteriously no little workers come out and clean up after me.  That is a real bummer.  Well one of my favorites of Dream Dinners was their legendary Arroz Con Pollo.  Well this week a bunch of ladies from my church did a mass freezer meal exchange and I requested that we do a healthy group and I decided to make this because I generally think Mexican goes over well and my kids love the rice/bean/corn combo.  I will give you the recipe and then I will explain a little modification issues.

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con pollo, or rice with chicken, is a classic Spanish one-pot meal.

1 cup uncooked rice
1 can black beans, drained I used organic1 can corn with red and green peppers
6 (4oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
I gotta add my Mrs Dash's Fiesta Lime! About tsp (who am I kidding I don't really measure!)

½ cup chicken broth
1 cup salsa (Jack's fresh salsa)1 cup marinara sauce (organic)
1 cup red, orange and yellow bell peppers, diced
½ cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (you know me, I like double this!)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup shredded cheese

Spray 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare the rice according to package directions (beware, see below!). Spread the rice over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Layer the beans, corn, and chicken over the rice and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients minus the cheese. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.
For dinner tonight... Preheat the oven to 350 F (175C). Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the chicken breasts reaches 165F.
If you make a double and want to freeze half... Before baking, cover the dish with foil. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking as directed above

OK here is my problem, when we used to make this a dream dinners we never cooked the rice first and previously I never had but suddenly with the meal exchange the pressure was on and I wanted to do it "by the book" so I did cook it before.  Gotta tell you it wrecked it a little for me! Sorry ladies who got my meal! Usually I am a rule breaker and I guess it pays.  It just was too liquidy whereas normally the rice sucks in the fluids and makes the food more flavorful.  Bummer.  So please break the rules and don't cook the rice before hand! 

Now for an alternative, you can change this up.  Here goes, are you ready... Dump everything in a crock pot and let it cook all day on low.   The chicken shreds apart and it makes yummy burrito type filling, throw it in a tortilla, yum. Add a little fresh guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, yogurt or fat free sour cream.   Ummm... Presto change-o it's like a totally different recipe.  I love it both ways so I switch it up back and forth. So the regular recipe straight up is 10pts.  Enjoy this one if you haven't had it before.  I'll be back again soon, I love all your encouragement, you keep listening, I'll keep writing!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day thoughts...

I love my husband, he tries so hard and sometimes even when he crashes and burns it is so evident that it truly is the thought that counts.  This morning he wanted to make me breakfast in bed since we have to leave for church tomorrow at 7:45 am, yikes.  So hey, you want to make me breakfast in bed I won't complain! I hinted that we still had the makings for this yummy Cannoli French Toast I gave you here.  So he went down to work on it this morning at 7:45 and I blissfully drifted back off to sleep.  My kids had a Dr. appointment at 9:45 am and I woke back up at 9:15, "Honey, I am not quite finished with breakfast, could you get the girls dressed for the Dr." Ummmm wait what time is it, how can you not be done after 1 1/2 hrs! So I got the kids ready and hurried down to inspect.  Let's just say that the french toast looked slightly more, um, masculine then mine.  They were all smashed and falling apart in the pan.  "Sweetie why don't you go hop in the shower and I will take over from here." He hustled and got ready, I gently restored the food, cooked up some sausage and plated it up with all the finesse and flair that comes with being a girl.  And I was smiling to myself the whole time.  Oh how he tries...He came down all stressed because now they had to leave and no one had time to eat (except me!) and he would just have to heat up the food when they got back.  "I can't believe I screwed this up again!" he remarked as he hustled out the door.  Are you kidding me? I get peace and quiet to eat my so delicious breakfast (it doesn't in fact matter if it is kind of squished, it still tastes incredible).  I DON'T have to take the kids to the Dr's for a change as he generously volunteered.  I got to sleep in blissfully unaware of the time and how he was perhaps struggling.  And I got a very nice little reminder that sometimes what we do in the kitchen seems silly or unnecessary or easy.  But it's not easy for everyone and when we handle it with ease and a good attitude doing the little touches to add something special to our family it must count for something.  That is a perfect Mother's Day reminder. 

As both of my girls are headed off to the Dr's you probably deduced that they aren't feeling too well.  My early riser, the 2 year old, didn't wake until I woke her up at 9:15 this morning if that says anything.   My 5 year old was distraught yesterday because she said she had an ear infection, nice now she is diagnosing herself.  When your kids are sick you are also reminded of the importance of the Mothering role.  Who do kids ask for when they are sick, Mommy.  Sorry but Dad's can't touch the draw of being Mom when the little ones don't feel well.  Or maybe they just don't mind abdicating that role.  Yesterday my 5 year old after diagnosing her earache was wailing for her Mom.  So I did what my Momma used to do to me.  I tucked her in my bed, I gave her some medicine, I opened the window by the bed so the fresh Spring air was drafting in, I gave her food to eat and then I laid down and read her from our latest chapter book.  She snuggled into me as I read and said "Momma you are the best Momma, thank you for making me feel better."  Well my friends it doesn't get much better than that. No matter how difficult and exhausting it gets some days, at the end of the day when you know you made a difference in their life and loved and cared for them the way no one else can that is what is most important. 

Nothing in this life so far has given me greater satisfaction then my role as a Mother, not even graduating from college with my Master's degree.  And I couldn't be the Mom I am without all the wonderful examples I have witnessed. I have a lot of great Mom role models in my life, of course my own Mom is number one, she can't be touched.  My two sisters are also so inspirational, in each of their own ways they do amazing things to care for their families.  My Mother in law has always held a special place in the list since I met her, she loves her boys and she loves her daughter in laws, and mostly she is much more than my Mother-in-law but really a dear dear friend.  I have watched countless friends face trials with courage and conviction as they handle their role of Mothering with grace and poise.  Really there are too many to list, you know who you are.  Thank you for all you have taught me and helped to make me the Mother I am.

These two pics are from Mother's Day 2 years ago when my little one was being dedicated at church.  My oldest sister couldn't make it but hey 3 out of 4 of the top 4 is not bad! Aren't I so lucky???


What a nice looking group!

Well the next few days I am supposed to get a break from cooking but after watching this morning unfold I am sure I will hold firm to my supervisor position and at least hover and make sure things are done to my satisfaction.  What can I say I like to have creative control!  Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Feet!

Happy weigh-in day! I weighed in three times this morning and got three different results.  So much for the reliability of my scale!  The first one said I hadn't lost anything.  Boo, so waited an hour and tried again.  Then it said like 3 lbs.  I doubted that one very much so I waited again.  Drank some water, used the ladies room and I got a 1/2 a pound.  Hmmmm....that sounds a bit right, I am going with that one.  (Don't think I wasn't tempted to go with the 3 lb measure but my mind I knew it wasn't that awesome.)  Nice thing is none of the measures were up! 

So thanks to last nights support to my post I have been encouraged to form a group page on FB and so I did! I hope you will invite your friends to join.  I picked the ladies that I thought might be interested due to previous interest, love of cooking, commitment to health, etc.  If I missed you on the invite list it's just because I didn't know if you would be interested but please join in, the more the merrier!

Today I am going to talk a little about a health issue I struggle with...

What about this weather in West Michigan!??! Gorgeous.  What does warm weather bring? 

Bare Feet!

Combine this new crop of bare feet or people who wear flimsy flip flops (basically bare feet) or all you ladies who walk around in these on a regular basis...

I have never been one to wear these and when I became a PT I became even more convinced they are evil created by a sadist and I was making the right decision.  (OK maybe not, the problem is when you don't wear them in moderation, but as for me I know I will never get on the high heel bandwagon!)  I don't care how pretty they are, they are just not right! Sorry to all you Carrie Bradshaw fans out there, I guess there is no hope of me being a NYC fashionista!

Anyways, if you participate in any of the above shoe wear (or lack there of) you may have some foot pain that you are struggling with.  I personally have struggled on and off with Plantar Fascitis for years.  I have very high arches which make me very likely to get this condition.   Then I moved into a house with top-to-bottom hardwood floors or hard ceramic tile.  If I dare try cooking or cleaning barefoot I am hobbling around very soon after.  Along with the ever popular heel pain/plantar fascitis diagnosis there are arthritis, neuromas, trauma, infection, skin conditions, just to name a few.  So how do we need to prepare for the summer months of exposed feet.   The American Podiatric Medical Association offers these tried and true tips. 

1. Always wear your shoes until bedtime Don't wear just thin slippers or socks or go barefoot.  Even flip flops with a cushioned/supportive sole are better than barefoot!

2. Before bed try gentle barefoot calf stretches for 20-30 sec on each leg.  Here are a few of my favorites...

3. Buy and maintain good shoes for walking and exercising and replace them regularly.  In addition if you are really struggling with foot pain you may need an orthotic in your shoe.  Sometimes it is as simple as a over the counter Dr. Scholls model but other times the gait abnormality is great enough that you will need custom orthotics.  If you are wondering some pharmacies have machines that you stand on that recommend a Dr. Scholl's insert or if you would like a gait analysis (and you live in West Mi) visit a store like Gazelle Sports or Strider's and they will do an assessment and recommend both shoes and inserts tailored to your foot and fitness needs.

4. Stretch your foot and your Achilles tendon after exercising.  (See above)

Additional suggestions: If you are struggling with pain in your foot.  Try icing after exercise or in the evenings with a frozen bottle of water and rolling it in your arch like this: 

Slowly roll it from the heel to your toes. Do this for about 10-15 minutes a few times a day.
Also take your thumb and aggressively massage the arch of your foot (or even better get your spouse to do it for you!) If you are they feel crunchy, gravely, snap-crackle-pop Rice Krispie feelings in your arch you likely have a case of Plantar Fascitis and what you are feeling is scar tissue.  Massaging it aggressively every day to break that "stuff" up is a good plan, but some people don't enjoy it (I personally love it but I am weird like that!)

Beyond that if you are still struggling in addition to these techniques for calming things down you may also need exercises to strengthen your feet and ankles. Balance exercises especially on uneven, unstable surfaces or standing on one leg will challenge the muscles of the feet.  Perhaps we will talk about this soon but as always if you need additional help please contact your physician for a full evaluation of the problem.   So have a great day everyone, I hope you all can start the spring season with Happy Feet!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How can THIS be diet food????

I just finished watching Julie and Julia for like the 5th time (cried a little bit still, embarrassing right?) and since I am now a food blogger I had a soft spot for Julie that I hadn't felt as strongly before, that she did all that she did and was ultimately rejected by Julia whose opinion she valued over all the fans she accrued.  She stated in her blog in the beginning that she felt like no one was really listening, like she was just writing and sending her words out into the cyber-abyss not really sure if anyone was even out there or cared.  I feel your pain Julie!  I am perhaps a little jealous that she had a muse, she did her homage to Julia Child in blog form and perhaps the gimmick of it all made it special or relevant in this world of 10 million blogs.  Instead I am out here feeling small and timid, hunting and gathering my recipes from all over and trying to share them because lets face it I LOVE GOOD FOOD but I want it to be HEALTHY good food so I am trying to change my life with this little ole' blog and share my journey in the process.  I have no gimmick, it's just me! And I will keep on blogging and sharing my Amanda-isms for as long as you are out there, whoever you are.

So tonight's menu was special, so so SO special.  My hubby bit into our dinner and said "How can THIS be diet food?" Then he looked at my kids and said "You have no idea how lucky you girls are!" Man I love that guy, I think I may have to go kiss him before I blog any more, excuse me.............

Oh Yea!

OK sorry, I think I am under control now.  It was just good chicken and he's such a good guy!  OK this one comes from a bonafide WW cookbook, Simply Delicious, here you go....

Goat Cheese and Herb-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 ounces goat cheese
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed under water, patted dry, and finely chopped
2 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped basil
4 teaspoons chopped thyme (I didn't have fresh so I used dry, if you do this remember that dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh so don't use as much)
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
8 skinless boneless chicken breasts
8 teaspoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach, rinsed

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a nonstick baking pan with nonstick spray. Combine the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, scallion, basil, and thyme in a bowl, mashing with a fork, until blended. Place the bread crumbs in another small bowl.

Cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast about 2 1/2 inches long. Place one eighth of the goat cheese mixture inside each slit. Lightly press the pocket closed with a fork. Brush each breast with the mayonnaise. Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, into the bread crumbs. Transfer chicken to the baking pan.

Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with nonstick spray. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the spinach in a large steamer basket set in a saucepan over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover tightly and steam until the spinach just wilts, about 3 minutes. (OK to be honest I didn't like their spinach wilting method and I sauteed mine.  I tossed it in a frying pan with a little minced garlic and tiny sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and stirred while on high heat until it was wilted down.  Then I mounded on my husband and I's chicken -- I didn't bother serving the girls, they are very suspicious of spinach and that's when it is sneakily hidden in their food instead of mounded on top!)  Transfer the spinach to a platter, then top with chicken.

OK here is the kicker, it tastes like gourmet fancy restaurant chicken for only 6 pts per breast! So happy! I had a feeling it would be good, hence I made 8 (love me some leftovers!) and also the goat cheese I buy comes in 4 oz packages so I figured, I better double the recipe but you could do four and just cut every ingredient in half (trust me though, you won't mind eating this one more than once!)   What did I serve with my perfection chicken you ask? Well only my absolutely fabulous Parmesan rosemary crusted sweet potato fries! I seriously make these like once a week now! In fact I am making them for Mother's Day so my family will soon be sold on these nuggets of bliss! Remember my earlier blog about my sweet potato epiphany?  Well I have to learn all sorts of yummy ways to make them since I love them so much and I sort of tossed a bunch of stuff on them the other day and calculated it and came out with this recipe.  So yummy. Here goes..

Amanda's Parmesan Rosemary Crusted Sweet Potato FriesWow that's a mouthful!!!

OK the recipe varies based on how many potatoes you use (I can tell you from experience, 2 looks like a lot but trust me it's not enough!) So here goes for 2 potatoes:

Take 2 large sweet potatoes and peel and chop into fries or wedges, the smaller the better.  WARNING: DON'T put your peels down the sink, they will clog your disposal, ask my husband he has taken apart my sink 2 x in the last year after I peeled sweet potatoes and by the third time I learned, peels in the trash (or better still the compost heap!) Anyways don't be an idiot like me, and if you are don't say I didn't warn you. 
Put cut fries in a large Ziploc, add 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 additional teaspoon of rosemary, dash salt, dash black pepper, 1 oz Parmesan cheese.  Close the Ziploc and shake the snot out of it until crazy good and coated.  Spread onto jelly roll baking pan and bake at 450 until done (I haven't been timing it, just watching for when they are ready!) Perfection. 1/2 potato or 1/4 of this recipe for 4 pts!  Same cute husband and I were fighting over them, especially when my girls didn't finish their potatoes.  Yup, we are pathetic.  Although my oldest said "All potatoes should taste this yummy!" I couldn't think of a better complement. 

So I definitely know when my family likes my food.  Unfortunately with little critics I also know when they do not! Like my daughter who already hates tomatoes and thinks I am unfit as a Mother when I hide sun dried tomatoes inside her chicken.  The nerve!  But I am not hearing much of what you think? You have been telling me what looks good and I love every single comment but please people, if you make one of my recipes, let me know how it turned out.  I want to know if you are as divinely happy as I am and if you disagree and think something is hideous I want to know that too and we can debate about why you are wrong (or maybe I will just secretly think that to myself - hehe).  All jokes aside, I would love to know if my recipes have given you any idea for dinner or turned out wonderfully, and please share if you made a modification you liked.  Consider me a voice crying in the Internet wilderness who just wants to know if she is being heard.  Happy Cooking everyone or as Julia would say (C'mon say it out loud so you can do the voice...) Bon Appetit!