Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hot Stuff

Yesterday, in addition to massive PMS, I was having some cravings for SPICY food. Is there such a thing as cold flashes?? If so, I guess I was having one.

I decided that I needed some hot & spicy food and started looking for easy recipes that were low-fat, low-cal, and high fiber. Have I told you all how much I love doing Weight Watchers Online? The resources and tracking system are simply amazing!

Both of these recipes were found on Weight Watchers and I'm going to share my modified versions with you! These two recipes certainly spiced things up in my household!

These poppers were AWESOME!! Spicy, cheesy, and super-crunchy!

Crunchy Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Non-stick Cooking spray
1 1/2 oz light cream cheese
1/4 cup(s) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons fat-free mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, and mayonnaise; mix well and set aside. Halve jalapenos lengthwise and remove seeds. You may want to wear gloves! Stuff jalapeno halves with cream cheese mixture (about 1 teaspoon per half-pepper).

Place egg substitute in a shallow dish. Place cornflake crumbs in a separate shallow dish. Dip stuffed jalapeno halves into egg substitute and then roll in cornflake crumbs to coat.

Transfer jalapenos to prepared baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.

Bake until filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve hot. Yields 2 poppers per serving. WW Points--3 per serving. Makes 5 servings.

This Chicken Stew is filling and delicious! It wasn't very hot at all--just a nice mild jalapeno flavor in the background. Next time, I'll skip browning the chicken and just let it simmer for the 20-30 minutes at the end and then shred it. That way, even less oil is used and the texture would be better.

Hearty Jalapeno Chicken Stew

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
Non-stick cooking spray
5 baby carrots, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
15 oz can of cannellini beans
14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes and jalapenos, with juice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups non-fat chicken broth
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon Cilantro puree (fresh cilantro if you have it)
Plain Nonfat Yogurt (optional)


Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add oil and turn to coat. Add chicken and brown on both sides; remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Coat the same pan with cooking spray and sautee carrot and onion until soft. Add remaining ingredients (except the chicken) and stir to combine.

Chop chicken into bite-size pieces and return to pan. Bring to soft boil over medium-high heat; then turn heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes until flavors have combined well. If desired, serve with 1 teaspoon plain nonfat yogurt. Yields 2 cups per serving. WW Points--5 per serving. Makes 4 servings.

I Heart This Joyful Face

Better late than never, right? Here is my entry for this week's contest on

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How To Roll Your Own Sushi

I know it's been a few months since we talked sushi, but ask and ye shall receive! After reading this, you can impress your friends by rolling your own sushi! Your friends and family will think you are the hippest person they know! And you don't even have to tell them how SIMPLE it is to make your own!

For those of you who are Sushi purists, GO AWAY! This will most likely frustrate and infuriate you! I'm not going to do everything perfectly and I'm NOT using raw fish. First, I don't think it's safe to work with raw fish at home, unless you have a bona-fide source of sushi-grade fish. Second, I don't like the texture of raw fish (and I've tried them all), so I make California Rolls.

And that, my friends, is how I roll--pun intended. HAHA Oh man, I kill myself sometimes...

It's very important that you gather all the proper specialty hardware for sushi making before you begin.

Yep, that's it. Pretty much everything else you can buy at larger grocery stores. I think you all can handle the 99 cents this bamboo mat costs. I bought mine at the Asian Market in my town.

While I was there, I picked up a few items I needed for the sushi because it has to taste better if you buy it there, right?? I spent about $10 on Nori paper, sushi rice vinegar, pickled ginger, and wasabi powder. All things that you can find in larger grocery stores. Don't be intimidated when you go into your asian market. If you have a hard time finding what you are looking for (because a LOT of it isn't labelled in english), just ask!

I didn't buy my sushi rice at the Asian Market because the smallest amount of sushi rice there was something like a 50 lb bag. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not much of one. You can see right on the bag that I bought my rice at Meijer's (a Michigan institution much like a Super Wal-Mart) for a whopping $2.39. The rice is the most important part of your sushi, so get it right! I've had very good results with this rice, so I'd definitely recommend it!

Just follow the directions on the back of the bag. Some people say to rinse the rice before you put it in the pan, but I'm WAY too lazy to do that! It worked just fine without rinsing it.

See!! No special skills needed yet!

While your rice is cooking, prepare your other ingredients. Since we're doing a California roll, you'll need Crab with a K, cucumber, and avocado. The smoked salmon is my lame attempt to appease my husband, who likes the raw fish kind of sushi. He'll eat it all and loves all of it!!

In fact, one night my husband and I met some friends at a restaurant called Yotsuba for some sushi. After the sushi was brought out, a different waitress came out and asked who ordered the Gizzard Shad. We all pointed to the husband and she said, "We were all wondering who ordered it. Even we don't like it." Apparently, the seasoned sushi waitresses were impressed with what he would eat!!

For easy cleanup, wrap your mat in plastic wrap. If you're cheap like me, use the Target brand.

Next, you'll prepare your sushi vinegar. For the amount of rice that the bag directions prepare (approx. 3 cups), you'll need 1/2 cup of your sushi vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Some people will tell you to put this on the stove and let the sugar and the salt dissolve over medium heat. Well, I'm here to tell you that it simply isn't necessary! I put my vinegar mixture in the microwave for about a minute, then stir, and set aside.

When your rice is finished cooking, dump it into a large bowl. Put the vinegar mixture back into the microwave for about 30 seconds, stir furiously, and pour over the rice.

Grab a wooden spoon and with slicing motion, stir the vinegar into the rice. It's almost the same technique as "folding," but don't tell an Itamae (sushi chef) I said that! So you slice through the middle a few times and then stir. Do this all without squishing the rice grains.

YIKES!! I really need to lotion my alligator hands!

The stirring technique is how you cool the rice. Some people use a fan in their other hand to help cool the rice. That's pretty cool, but I'm too uncoordinated to do that at this point.

Remember when you were a kid? You'd get a cool paper fan that folded out and you ran around fanning yourself like a southern belle saying, "Ah do declay-uh," and opening and shutting the fan while pretend fainting? No? I guess it was just me.

Anyway, once your rice is cooled to room temperature, set a piece of Nori on your plastic covered mat and make sure you have a bowl of water nearby. The water is VERY important, unless you want to have your hands covered in sticky rice. Dip your hands into the water and grab a handful of rice. Continue dipping your hand into the water and pressing the rice onto the paper, leaving just a little room around the outside of the nori paper.

When you've covered your nori with rice, give it one last press down to even out the rice.

Now, lay your roll ingredients on the bottom of the rice.

Lift up the bottom edge of the mat and using your fingers to push in your roll ingredients, roll the end of the paper under the ingredients.

Using all of your fingertips, press the paper under the ingredients and squeeze, almost like you are pushing your fingers to your palms. Then use your whole hand to press the sushi into a square.

Pick up the end of the mat with one hand.

Continue pressing the mat down into the sushi. Use your fingers again to press under the ingredients. This is crucial or your roll will fall apart!

Continue rolling and squeezing gently until the nori is rolled all the way up. Then give it another squeeze into a rectangular shape. You may need to lift up the mat and check to see that the roll is sealed. Then chide yourself again for not keeping your hands well-moisturized.

This is what you should see when you lift up your mat. CONGRATULATIONS! You have just rolled your own sushi!!!

Remember the water you used to keep from getting rice caked on your hands? You're going to use it again to help you cut the sushi roll. Dip the tip of your knife into the water and then tip it back to let the water run down your knife. This helps lubricate (that's a funny word) the knife so it will glide through the sushi.

By the way, have you invested in a set of Wusthof knives? NO??? WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR? About 8 or 9 years ago, I took most of my measley paycheck and bought four knives, kitchen shears, and a block for about $300. My family thought I was crazy, but I have never, ever, EVER regretted my investment! My only regret is that when I visit their houses now, I know how bad their knives suck! I just recently took my knives to get professionally sharpened for the first time. Oh, how I love those dang knives! If you don't want to spend a lot of money, just buy a Chef's Knife or a Santoku Knife.

Start by cutting your roll in half. And whatever you do, don't let your camera strap show!!

Then cut them in half again and then cut until you have pieces that are small enough so you can shove them in your mouth. With this large (futomaki) roll, I like to cut it into 12 pieces.

TA-DAAAAAAAA!!! Now, go roll your own sushi, because this beauty is allllllll miiiiiiiiiiiine!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Did I Mention....

that I am now a mother-in-law? At the ripe old age of 33 folks.

My Stepson came back after Christmas and was supposed to be bringing his fiance. Well, instead he showed up with his WIFE! I'm happy for the newlyweds and pray for their continued love, devotion, and understanding of each other.

But could you just wait to have kids until I'm at least old enough to actually have a grandchild? Like at least another 7 years. A 40-year old grandmother can be a hot grandma, but any younger and it's just "huh?"

I'm really not above begging.


Really, really...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas Treats

My family across the country certainly enjoyed all of the time that I spend perusing blogs! I made Peppermint Marshmallows and homemade Hot Cocoa Mix that I found on Little Birdie Secrets and used gift tags found on Tricia-Rennea Art!

I also made half of an English Toffee Recipe I found on Tip Junkie, but I ate most of it before I could get it bagged up to send--oooooops! So don't tell my family, but I only sent one person toffee!

Actually, I made it for me (and I didn't get any pics because I snarfed it down so fast) and as an afterthought, I sent it to my sister-in-law because she said she wanted some!

By the way, what kind of person on Weight Watchers makes themselves English Toffee? I think I may have brain damage... Toffee is butter and white sugar covered in chocolate. BIG no-no's on WW!

All I know is that I used every single flex point allocated to me that week. By the way, I've lost 18.4 lbs in two months! Even with all the toffee!

Chugga-chugga-choo-choo! Getting back on track here folks... Here's what their treats looked like!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vintage Midget Pics

My Mother is the Queen of Froofy, so when the Midget and I were at her house in June of 2008, we staged our own Vintage Photoshoot! She had so many fun things to use as props and I think the pics turned out smashing! Also, go see my entry for i*heart*faces!

I *heart* Faces

Two of my bloggy buddies, Angie from The Arthur Clan and Amy from Living Locurto have launched a new website!

It's a photography sharing blog where you link up your photos of faces and share them with everyone! Love the idea guys!! Here's my first submission of the midget's sweet face. Her eyelashes are really highlighted in this picture! I did another post of pictures that were taken at this same "photoshoot" my Mom and I did at her house.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What I've Been Doing in My Free Time

WOW! It's been nearly a month since I've done an actual post! I'm so happy to have a computer back, but I must admit that it was nice to have a little time away from being glued to my computer!

It has taken almost a week's time to get everything re-loaded on to my computer. Hopefully, I'll be back in full swing next week. I have a few posts in my back pocket, you know...

Here's what has taken up most of my time--I've been working hard to teach the Midget how to clean the house for me. I KNOW! It's GENIUS!