Happy Pinning!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

When the moon hits your eye like a big Pizza pie, that's amore!

OK I know I am a cheesy dork with all my song titles but it's my Daddy's fault.  He totally used to be silly like that, whatever ethnicity of food we were eating he did his best attempt at singing or talking as if he was from that country.  Heaven help us when we had Chinese take out! I love you Daddy!

So obviously I am sharing an Italian dinner with you today.  I told you I was chock full of tomatoes, especially the little guys, if you want some seriously come help yourself!  OK so my favorite way to eat tomatoes, Bruschetta!!! Yea! And we don't have to share with the kids because they don't eat tomatoes, Yea!!!

Balsamic Bruschetta


  • 8 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf French bread, toasted and sliced
  • Mrs Dash's Tomato Basil Seasoning - how could I not add this?


  1. In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Serve on toasted bread slices.
2 slices = 3 pts, I got the recipe from allrecipes.com, I have an app for that (I feel very technologically advanced since I entered the world of intelligent-portable communication devices aka Smartphones) The app is really nice for cooking and it doesn't go into screen saver mode because it knows that you obviously are trying to follow a recipe! So good, we used some of our tomatoes and our basil.  What to go with it????

Creamy Tortellini with Ham

1 pound refrigerated or frozen tortellini
6-8 slices diced cooked bacon (I decided instead to have the deli cut a thick 1/2 lb slice of ham and I cut it in cubes and browned it shortly in the frying pan)
1 pint half & half or heavy cream (I used fat free)
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste (this is about 1/2 of the small cans, I just used the whole thing for a little more tomato-y sauce)3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (horrifically I am out Italian seasoning but I used Mrs. Dash's Tomato Basil again)
I also tossed in some sundried tomatoes too, it was, after all, a tomato themed meal!

Cook diced bacon in skillet until crisp, drain on paper towels, set aside (again I just browned my already cooked ham slightly)

Cook tortellini according to package instructions, until pasta is done but still firm to touch. You don’t want it to be too soft or it will fall apart when you stir in remaining ingredients. The tortellini will normally float to the top of the water when it is done.

While tortellini is cooking, combine the cream or half & half with the tomato paste. This step is optional but you will avoid clumps of tomato paste if you mix it together before adding to pasta. Heat in microwave for a minute or so to soften the tomato paste and incorporate into the cream easier.

Drain water from tortellini, reserving 1/2 cup. Return pasta to pan and add cream mixture, peas, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Cook over medium low heat until bubbly and heated through. If sauce is too thick gradually add reserved pasta water until it reaches desired consistency.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese grated on top if desired and with a tossed salad and bread (like Bruschetta!)

This made a big pot (about 10 servings) and that makes it about 6 pts a serving.  Now here I have to brag a little and at the same time reveal part of my menu-planning strategy. I used to participate in Dream Dinners a lot when we had one here. It really made me better in the kitchen, I learned to use more creative ingredients, less boring meals, expanded my horizons, and it made my husband a better griller too! Anyways, I developed a plan, perhaps tedious to some, but I enjoy it and it fits my type A personality well! Each month when DD comes out with a new monthly menu plan I copy and paste it to a Word document.  Then I take the title and the description of each meal and search the Internet to find a similar recipe and make any modifications that I need to, to make it diet friendly.  This recipe came from a page called asimplekitchen.net and when I plugged it in swapping the fat free half and half and the ham it worked out to only 6 pts.  And when I pulled up the nutritional info on Dream Dinners creamy tortellini....13 pts!!!! I felt very good about that difference!  Many of the dishes I have shared recently; the fish tacos, the teriyaki burgers and the forth coming buffalo chicken are all my adapted versions of those ideas from DD.  That gives you a little tip on how to come up with good diverse meal ideas if you have menu planning block!  Lately I am doing a few from there, a few from Jillian's book, a few from either Betty Crockers or Hungry Girl's weekly email and then some recipes that are my "classics" or recipes I have collected over the years. 

So my whole dinner was only 9 pts, which I really needed after I had gone to the fair earlier that day and had part of an Elephant Ear and Fri night at the Metro Cruise I had cotton candy! Yikes!

So if Julia Child had Mastered the Art of Italian Cooking, she would probably say...

Salute!! Buon Appetito!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baby don't you cry, gonna make a pie...

I came across this recipe this week thanks to my daily email from Hungry Girl.  She takes a commonly eaten item from a restaurant and makes a guilt free version.   This week she was making over peanut butter pie and the average peanut butter pie would be about 15 pts by her calculation and her version is only 4, I was in charge of bringing the treat to book club this week so based on her glowing review it didn't take me long to be sold on the idea.  I think there is always a little trepidation of whether the food is going to taste "diet" and give a lack luster performance especially when you have never made it before but I thought this was quite yummy and it was especially good to know you knew exactly how many points the dessert was!

Freezy Downside Up PB Dream Pie

Ingredients:1/2 cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter, room temperature
Half an 8-oz. tub fat-free cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup light vanilla soymilk or unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
1 cup Cool Whip Free, thawed
2 sheets (8 crackers) low-fat honey graham crackers, crushed
Optional topping: Fat Free Reddi-wip
Directions:Place peanut butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer set to medium speed, mix until smooth and uniform.

Add powdered sugar to the bowl. Set the mixer to low speed, and mix well. Add soymilk and continue to mix until smooth.

Gently fold in whipped topping, until uniform in color.

Carefully transfer the filling into a pie pan. Evenly top with crushed graham crackers. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Cut into 8 slices and, if you like, top with Reddi-wip. Enjoy!

MAKES 8 SERVINGS, 4 pts each

A little advice mine was no where near frozen after 3 hrs so I would not cut it too close!

Now here is the story with me and pie, for some reason pie crusts freak me out, store bought just taste so-so to me and therefore I hardly ever make pie so a pie that doesn't require baking and no crust was right up my alley.  I don't know what it is with me and baking! Too precise I guess, I am quite obviously someone who likes to ad lib if you hadn't noticed and with baking if your measures are off or your altitude or you attitude or whatever, disaster could strike. 

Random Cute Pie reference, I saw the movie Waitress not too long ago, I am a big Keri Russell fan and I thought the movie was cute but not like great or anything but I did love the pie theme, she creates a gagillion pies and she sings a cute pie song:

So now you all have something sweet to hum when you make a pie! Enjoy the creamy goodness of this cold peanut buttery treat and tomorrow I'll share some Italian yumminess with you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I am tired so I am going to try to make this quick!!

Not feeling real witty tonight (some of you may not ever find me too witty so maybe you won't notice) but I am happy.  My hubby and I just ran 2.5 miles in 32 min.  Just cracks me up that when I started this I was so tired at the 1 min running intervals!!! But since my calf (just the left one) felt like it was dying a sad slow death around mile 2 I can't imagine 26 miles, you go Marathoners!!! I have two recipes to share still from vacation but they were so good I don't want to miss them and I have the new menu plan to reveal and a yummy snack to review. Whew, I am tired just thinking about it. Those bloggers who do this everyday, well, I give them credit!

OK first recipe! Fire up your crock pots because Old Betty has done it again! I have about 9 different ways I make roasted pork in the crockpot but this new addition from Betty Crocker has a Caribbean twist!

Caribbean Pork Tacos

1 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 can crushed pineapple tidbits in juice
2 tsp lime juice
zest of one lime
1 tsp Mrs Dash's Caribbean Citrus seasoning
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup cilantro minced
1 tsp garlic salt
pkg of corn tortillas (as pictured ala Betty) or I used 10 whole wheat tortillas
any toppings you would like ie lettuce, tomato, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese

I used this as the other one of my freezer meals too by the way. I took the first 9 ingredients and threw them in a bag and froze it, then when you want to eat, thaw, throw it in the crockpot and cook for 8 hrs.  They were yummy!!! 10 servings, 5 pts (not counting toppings so use fat free sour cream and cheese if you must!)


Honestly don't remember where I found this nugget! Whoops but it's a good one and I will tell you something else it stretched into another meal!! Watch this...

Teriyaki Burgers with homemade Pineapple Mango Salsa and Teriyaki sauce

We were making this for a bigger group on vacation so I made 12 burgers!
For the burgers:
3 lbs. ground sirloin
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
To make the burgers, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.  In a large bowl, mix together the beef, yellow onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Form the mixture into 12 patties, each about ¾-inch thick.
When the grill is heated, cook the hamburgers directly over medium-high heat, turning once, 3 -5 minutes per side. Check for doneness by cutting into a hamburger near the center or testing with an instant-read thermometer. No pink should show on the inside, and the internal temperature should register at least 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.  A few minutes before the burgers are done cooking, grill the buns just until lightly brown and toasted.
OK I admit it we added cheese! 1 slice colby jack to each! Trust me they didn't need it! With a whole wheat bun and cheese (before toppings - just wait) 11 pts.  When I make them again, I will take mine open face sans bun and cheese!!! The flavor is all in the toppings.  So before I left on vacation I made the teriyaki sauce (yeah for my Magic Bullet!!) and the salsa ahead of time and I even froze the salsa!! They are both 1 pt each and so the whole burger was 13 pts (hey it was vacation and it's still better than a whopper!), like I said if I did it again without the bun and cheese you save 5 pts!! That makes it only 8 pts!!! Way worth that.  Here is how you make the teriyaki sauce...
For the sauce:
1 1/2 cup fresh chopped pineapple
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced ginger
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. vinegar (apple cider or rice vinegar)
½ tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. cold water
To make the sauce, combine the pineapple, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, garlic, vinegar and sesame oil in a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth and well blended.  Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan.  Warm over medium-high heat until bubbly, about 1-2 minutes.  In a small prep bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and stir until well incorporated.  Continue heating the sauce, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
And the salsa (freezes beautifully)
1 mango, diced
1½ cups diced fresh pineapple
 1 red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 cup scallions finely diced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime and zest
Pinch of coarse salt
To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Toss to mix well.  Cover and refrigerate, allowing flavors to blend while you prepare the sauce and burgers.
To serve, place a hamburger patty on each of the buns.  Top with teriyaki sauce and garnish with mango-pineapple salsa.  Replace the top bun to form a sandwich and serve immediately.
So here is the trick, we all used plentiful portions of the sauce and salsa on our burgers and still ended up with tons leftover.  So I being slightly the evil genius that I am, recycled them.  When we got home, I took 6 chicken breasts and marinated them in the leftover teriyaki sauce and baked them and then served them with a handsome scoop of the salsa on top! Wah-la, teriyaki meal 2.0!!! (I get excited about these things but then again I may be odd.)
OK so you have to try at least one of those or both, they were really good!
Next snack time.  I have always loved me some Skinny Cow  ice cream sandwiches (my two year old says "I sceem", it is so adorable if I do say so myself), right now I have been digging on the Strawberry Shortcake ones!! So they just came out with new snacks...

I had the milk chocolate clusters tonight, 2 pts and so delicious, I felt like I was getting away with something.  Someone at work had a sample box and coupons so I got all four flavors to try.  I may be dieting but I still need a regular dose of chocolate and if I can find stuff that tastes that good for that few pts, I am a fan! Thanks skinny cow!

OK so much for this going quick, one more thing, I like to do a menu preview, gets your salivary glands working, gives you a little motivation to tune in (hopefully!). Here is what I have planned for the near future...

1. Greek Flank Steak Pinwheels with Pull apart bread and a salad
2. Creamy Tortellini with Ham and Bruscetta (I have got to use all my tomatoes, I have tomatoes coming out my eyeballs!)
3. Buffalo Ranch Chicken with broccoli and peach jello (Oh how I love peach jello!)
4. Louisiana BBQ Shrimp and Rice with Mini Crab Cakes and horsey sauce
5. Herb and Brie Omelet, Chicken Sausages and Balsamic glazed grilled peaches
6. Pizza Margherita and Chicken Ranch Bites
7. Chicken and black bean Taquitos, Stuffed Portabellas and homemade guac/pita chips

OK I am hungry now, stink, hopefully water can stop me from eating something this late! Thanks everyone for your support.  I also had an exciting thing happen today that may be a really cool development in my life, I hope it pans out so I can share with you.... (There's a little suspense for you!) Ugh it's so late now, off to shower and bed!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Being a lump is hard to do sometimes!!!

This morning in church I kept thinking about this, my college roommate Bianca had this on a poster in our room, I have always loved this one:

I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed.

I have the Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,
and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the
pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear for "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.." (Romans 1:16)

By Dr. Bob Moorehead

Pastor Gary challenged us this morning to do something risky for God.  It's amazing to what lengths we go through in this life to be safe, to buy all the insurances we can, to not feel too stretched or uncomfortable. And most of us can survive pretty well right along without feeling like we have to step outside of our comfort zones.  Lately the human condition is making me grow weary and my soul is restless, I do so desire to completely empty myself out so I am nothing but a vessel, for what He can fill me up with is far better than all the junk I have been putting in there! But what is my challenge?  Do I even recognize it when God leads me to it. 

Right now two little visitors are on my back porch and playing with my daughter.  I am beginning to think of them as her entourage! When we pull in the driveway these two kids from two different homes make a beeline for our car.  Craig and I laugh about having to duck and cover if we need to run outside for a minute because these kids seem to have a radar for us.  One is a little boy who lives behind us and is four and his Grandma has custody of him as his mother has been in and out of jail for drugs, so he calls his Grandma, "Mom" and his mother "Aunt".  My heart goes out to this little boy who sits on his porch all day waiting for someone to come along that he can talk to.  The other child is the little girl I met at the track a while back.  She is about 7-8 years old and roams the neighborhood all day with absolutely no parental supervision, feet so dirty they are black as night and she is always asking me for food.  In fact her big sister is about 12-13 and they informed us her mom works till 3 am and leaves them home alone and her sister hardly looks capable of handling everything (especially because it doesn't occur to not tell people they hardly know that they are home alone every day until 3 am!)  This girl calls me "the nice lady", a name that I feel very obligated to live up to.  It's hard for me to think of this as my mission field and it hardly seems like that important of a mission. 

My mother and I were talking about dreams and visions whether personal goals for yourself or ways you can see yourself being used by God.  My current problem is I can see lots of areas that I would envision growing, stretching, serving but I either don't know where to begin or I constantly try to "help" God work out all the details. It's no wonder that much of the time I feel like I accomplished nothing.  I seem to forget that I am NOT the potter, I am just the lump of clay.  After all a lump of clay serves no purpose, it is only after the Master's hand transforms the clay into something that it's purpose is known! I am going to work on giving each and every day to God and pray that he will help ME see HIS vision and I know the details will already be worked out when the time comes!  

Today that mean opening my porch, my kids toys, my bathroom and my Popsicle stash to two lonely young children in hopes that God would use me to give them an extra dose of love.  You see I can't imagine how hard it is to be a single parent or a Grandmother parenting her Grandchild while likely feeling additional distress over the hardships she is watching her daughter struggle with.  I imagine both of these women could use an additional dose of love and help too.  So I guess while caring for their kids I am also caring for them.  Is this the most exciting act of service I can imagine? No, definitely not.  But my prayer will be to make impact where God desires, even if it is just for my daughter to see me opening my home to people in need.  I am a person who is too easily held back by fear.  My fears keep me from doing things all the time.  But "perfect love drives out fear" and my savior certainly has perfect love for me. He knows my heart and he will put me where he wants me to do what he wants me to do, right now I am going to focus on being that lump of clay! Hope you are ready and willing to put yourself on the potter's wheel too! Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Miss Me???

Hey all, I have a couple I O U's to fullfill.  I was way too ambitious thinking I could have got to this prior to leaving for vacation and although I have been home for a week, would you believe there has been no time??

I will give you the recipe I made for my parents before I left today and maybe tomorrow or Sunday I will give you a recipe we had while up North that was super yum.  Plus I need to do a new menu plan! Much to do!!!

Before we left I had food I needed to use up and I wanted to visit my parents so, wah-la, dinner party!

Citrus Marinated Fish Tacos

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, stems discarded, seeded and thinly sliced, plus 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the can (OK here is the skinny on this - I only used 1 can and I was very careful to seed them and wash them and it was SO spicy! I can't imagine using 2 cans, I have worked with these little guys before so I knew they are seriously hot.  So needless to say the kids were crying "Too Spicy" throughout dinner. If you have kids, skip this ingredient and maybe just add a little chile pepper or red pepper, if no kids and you like spicy give it a try!)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless meaty fish filets, such as snapper, bass, tilefish or cod, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips - I used 3 fillets of fresh Walleye my hubby caught thank you very much, good job honey!1 large sweet onion, cut crosswise into 2 thick slabs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  Sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 corn tortillas
  • Sliced oranges, Mild salsa, lime wedges, shredded lettuce and diced avocado, tomato and onion, for serving
1.     In a medium bowl, combine the orange juice with the garlic, adobo sauce, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Add the shrimp and fish, season with salt and pepper; let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
2.     In a large nonreactive skillet, warm the oil over moderately high heat. Add the fish and shrimp cook until whitened but still opaque in the center, about 2 minutes per side. Add the onion and garlic, reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, until the onion is wilted and the fish breaks into large flakes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3.     Add the sliced oranges, chipotles, cilantro and the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

These little guys were for my hubby, who ALWAYS orders fish tacos at Mexican restaurants and I always thought weird but I saw this recipe and thought, that sounds about my speed and so I went for it, plus I got to use his fish.  Sweet.  However they were definitely not sweet they were SPICY!!!  3 pts each though, awesome, eat 2!  I paired them with...

Black Beans with Cilantro
 Literally take a can of black beans, heat up and through in fresh cilantro and garlic salt and eat, yum!

My Cilantro Lime Rice
‎1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup basmati rice (its worth making the switch to the more exotic rices, they are yummy or for more healthy choice go brown!)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
zest from one lime
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp salt

Add oil to sauce pan and heat on low. Add garlic and rice and saute for 2 min stirring frequently. Add the chicken broth, salt, lime juice and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or according to rice directions. When the rice is done, add lime zest and chopped cilantro and stir to mix in. Serve immediately.
And a little something new
Lemon Herb Coolers

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups (packed) basil leaves and small sprigs
  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves and small sprigs
  • 1 cup (packed) mint leaves and small sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Diet Sprite
  • Lemon twists and mint sprigs or lime wedges, for garnish
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 5 minutes; let the sugar syrup cool.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the sugar syrup with the basil, cilantro, mint, tarragon, lemon zest and lemon juice and puree. Let stand for 1 hour, then strain through a coarse sieve, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
At this point it looked like this
To which my dad said, Ewww I am not drinking that.  But then I took a can of diet sprite added 3-4 tbsp of green sludge and a lemony herby delicious and refreshing beverage for 1 pt.

3. For each drink, pour 3-4 Tbsp of the fresh herb syrup over cracked ice and fill with diet sprite. Garnish the drinks with a lemon twist and mint sprigs and serve.
So there you have it a lemon inspired menu (there was a jello item too but that sort of didn't go as planned so I spared you my packing for vacation mayhem that this item fell victim to!)  Hope you see something you like. 
It's good to be back...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Good stuff from the garden, the best stuff of summer!

Well I am off on vacation on Saturday and as much as I would love to blog while I am gone the wilderness areas of the North don't tend to be too conducive to wireless connections! So while scrambling around to pack and plan this week I will also try to get a few good meals out to you.  Tonight's dinner was yum-tastic. (When food is really good regular words don't seem good enough to describe it and you have to opt for fun made-up words.) And some of the ingredients were fresh out of my garden, isn't that the best!

The two main recipes are from Jillian's cookbook Master Your Metabolism again! The first one has some of my faves in it like:

And if you have never bought a pomegranate before they are really kind of fun to open and eat.  I learned how at a cooking class I went to a few years ago and now I love to do it.  I came across a tutorial the other day on another website here and she explains it a lot more eloquently than I could so check it out! (Just don't fall in love with her super awesome blog and not come back! I did think it was funny though today she did the mango quinoa that I did the other week, it's sweeping the nation!)

Baby Spinach with Avocado, Pomegranate, and Toasted Sunflower Seeds Serves 6 to 8 as a side salad

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 large shallot, quartered (I used a quarter of a sweet onion, quartered)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pomegranate
10 ounces baby spinach leaves, cleaned and patted dry
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced (yeah I just chunked it!)
In a blender, place the orange zest and juice, the lime zest and juice, the shallot, the olive oil, the chili powder, the salt, and the black pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.  (Thank you magic bullet, you are very magical indeed, I love making homemade dressing!!)

Remove and drain the pomegranate seeds (see above tutorial link), discarding the membrane. Set aside.

In a large bowl, place the spinach, all but 2 tablespoons of the pomegranate seeds, the sunflower seeds, and about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Toss gently to coat. Transfer the salad to a platter or individual plates.

Pit and peel the avocado and slice it thinly. Arrange the avocado slices on top of the salad. Sprinkle the reserved pomegranate seeds on top. Drizzle with the reserved dressing and serve.

Calories 136.7 kcal
Fat 8.6 g
Protein 2.9 g
Carbohydrates 15.5 g
Sodium 159.2 mg
I did 6 servings and it was 4 pts each.  I didn't toss everything together but kept everything separate so for leftovers I won't have the wilty mushy gross version but can make it again fresh!

Then I raided my garden for some of my favorites for the main dish (OK I don't grow baby bellas but they are one of my favorites but the basil and the heirloom tomatoes are all mine!):
Broiled Tilapia with Fresh Herbs, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes
Serves 4

Olive oil spray, for the baking sheet
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (I skipped the parsley and did a full 1.5 cups of basil because I have a ton! Made it more pesto-ish without the fat!) 4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 cremini or button mushrooms, each about 2 inches across ( I used baby bellas - a little fancier than button)
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
4 (4-ounce) farmed tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
Spray a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange a rack 6 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler to high.

In the work bowl of a food processor, place the basil leaves, the parsley leaves, the garlic cloves, the olive oil, the lime juice, and the salt and pepper. Process until uniformly chopped and well combined.

Remove the stems from the cremini mushrooms: in one hand hold a cremini by the cap. With the forefinger and thumb of your other hand, twist the stem off so the hollowed cap is left. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Discard the stems (or freeze them for vegetable stock. Fill each mushroom cap with about 1/4 teaspoon of the herb mixture. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Arrange the tilapia fillets on the baking sheet and spread half of the remaining herb mixture over them. Turn the fillets over and spread the remaining herb mixture over them, making sure that they are completely covered. Scatter the tomatoes on the baking sheet around the fish.

Broil until the fish is firm when pressed and flakes easily, the tomatoes are charred in spots, and the mushrooms are bubbling and soft, about 10 minutes. Place 1 tilapia fillet, two mushroom caps, and a few tomatoes on each of 4 plates and serve.
(Here's the whole gorgeous plate together, the asparagus I made is hiding!)

A couple more angles, I am working really had at my food photography skills! I can't keep up with those powerhouse food bloggers like Pioneer Woman, don't ask my how they snap photos while cooking! Doesn't work for me!

Calories 236.7 kcal
Fat 12.9 g
Protein 25.3 g
Carbohydrates 6.6 g
Sodium 131.8 mg
So for four servings only 5 pts and the fish was so light and fluffy (Oh man my college friends are laughing at that description! But really that's how I describe perfectly cooked fish!)  One thing I would like to add about these mushrooms.  My husband took me to the Olive Garden for date night last Friday and Friday is the day I tend to splurge and I had such an awesome weigh in that morning I was feeling like I could enjoy myself a little.  I calculated my points today.  32 pts for just dinner on Friday.  That is practically my entire day's budget.  But you know what, I am just proud of myself for counting it all up.  But one thing my husband and I often do is get that sampler appetizer because I absolutely adore the stuffed mushrooms and he loves the calamari so we each eat are own thing and we're good.  That little appetizer (just my mushrooms) was 8pts, that is almost the entire value of my dinner tonight! And these mushrooms (while granted weren't stuffed with crab and breadcrumbs) were stuffed with what tastes like pesto and were really really good so hey, it's always nice to find healthy alternatives. 

So nine total pts for dinner is nothing to snuff your nose at.  And I am about to go running now that I am digested and earn me some extra activity points.  I am on week 5 of the Couch to 5k and this week is the scariest.  Stay tuned to find out how I do.  Maybe it will be the perfect stress reliever during the pre-vacation madness this week.  Talk to you later, alligators!