Monday, September 28, 2015

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Swirl Brownie Cake

The kids asked for something sweet as a treat after school this afternoon and thought up this one that I haven't made in a long time. It's only 4 Weight Watchers points per square out of a total of 16 squares/servings. I changed the recipe a little and got more of a brownie-like texture, so I'll share how I have it on my recipe card that I'm sure I got from Weight Watchers eons ago and then what I did to get a more brownie-like texture as well in parenthesis next to specific ingredients. I bet you can sub in some other nut butters as well to switch it up a little.



INGREDIENTS: 

1 Tbs all-purpose flour (I used Pam baking spray for the pan)
1/2 c. reduced-calorie stick butter, softened
1-1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large egg whites (I substituted 1/2 cup pasteurized egg product of all egg whites)
1 large egg (I substituted 1 egg yolk with egg-white product above)
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray and dust with the 1 Tbsp of flour (or Pam baking spray) and set aside.

Cream the butter and gradually add in the brown sugar until well blended on medium speed.  Add vanilla extract, egg whites (or egg product), whole egg (or 1 egg yolk), and beat well.

Mix the 1-1/2 cups flour with 1/2 tsp. baking powder in a separate bowl and slowly add into mixture until well blended.

Divide the mixture evenly, about 1-1/2 cups in 2 parts. Into one part mix in the 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa and into the other bowl mix in the 1/4 cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter (you will have two batters now).

Spoon each mixture alternately into the prepared pan. Bang on the counter to level and using a knife create swirls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

YIELDS: 16 servings

POINTS: 4 points per square

Tuna And Wild Rice Salad



This dish was so Filling, I couldn't even Finish it, so if you are looking for a hunger buster, this is a good one!

INGREDIENTS:

Salad:
1 (6.2-oz.) pkg fast-cooking recipe of long-grain and wild rice such as Uncle Ben's
2 (6-oz.) cans low-salt albacore tuna in water, drained
1 (14-oz.) can quartered and chopped artichoke hearts, drained
1 (4.5-oz.) jar sliced mushrooms, drained

Dressing:
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper

Base and Topping:
8 romaine lettuce leaves
12 cherry tomatoes, halved


INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare the rice according to package directions but leave out the fat (butter or oils)

Combine the rice, tuna, artichokes, and mushrooms in a large bowl and toss gently.

Make the dressing by combining the green onions, vinegar, oil, mustard, and pepper in a jar with lid for shaking or a bowl in which you can whisk together. Add dressing to the tuna mixture., tossing gently again.

Serve salad by lining the dish with lettuce, placing 1-1/4 cups of rice mixture atop the lettuce, and topping with halved cherry tomatoes.

YIELDS: 4 servings

POINTS: 6 points per serving

INFORMATION:  298 calories (15% from fat); 22.4g protein; 5g Fat (0.7g saturated); 43.7g carb; 2.3g fiber; 17mg cholesterol; 3.7mg iron; 1208mg sodium; 77mg calcium)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Roast-Beef-Wrapped Asparagus Rolls



This is a great low-point snack at only 3 Weight Watchers points per 4 rolls, but I cheat a little and use a horseradish sauce that is pre-made and therefore count each roll as 1 point.

You'll need asparagus and thin-sliced roast beef.


To make the horseradish sauce from scratch, you'll need to mix the following ingredients together:

2 Tbs low-fat mayonnaise
2 tsp. prepared horseradish

If you'd like to cheat like I do to save a little time, I use Woeber's Horseradish sauce that I find in the condiments isle at my grocery store.  I put either version into a baggie and snip the end off to apply it quickly in a steady bead along the inside (spreading it with a knife can be a bit of a pain).

To prepare the asparagus, you need to blanch it quickly in boiling water. Snap off the ends of your asparagus while the water heats to a boil and prepare a dish large enough to accommodate them filled with ice cubes and water to shock it.  Shocking stops the cooking process and maintains that nice crispness.  Once the water is boiling, place all asparagus in the water so that they are covered with water. (I use a large and deep skillet).  Boil for no more than 4 minutes, and sometimes less time depending on the thickness of your asparagus.  Once the water turns green, I pull one out, put it into the ice water, and quickly taste it for texture.  You don't want it to get mushy. A nice snap is what you are looking for. When ready, remove all asparagus from the boiling water and put straight into the ice water.  Let rest for a minute, then drain and dry.

Place a slice of roast beef down, place asparagus on top, and drizzle a thin line of horseradish sauce.  Then roll 'er up. That's it.  They are great cold.

If you have very thick asparagus spears, one stalk will do per roll, but feel free to double 'em up if they're particularly thin like I did in the above picture.

Enjoy!

YIELDS: 4 servings of 4 rolls

POINTS: 3 points per serving (4 rolls)

INFORMATION:  5g total fat; 1g saturated fat; 50mg cholesterol; 179mg sodium; 3g total carb; 1g dietary fiber; 19g protein; 15mg calcium

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Salmon with Mango Glaze



I have been hunting for eons for a great-tasting way to Fix this Family of mine salmon, and now I have one.  That also includes me.  I know we can get ourselves to eat anything if it suits our tastebuds just so, so this became a personal challenge to me.

I was given this recipe by a Friend.  There seems to be many versions online as well, including one with star anise, which I might try somewhere down the line.  I just kept basting this salmon about every 5 minutes with the glaze mixture reserving just enough to hit it once it was done and before serving.  This is delicious.  My husband is not a Fish Fan at all.  In Fact he groaned about dinner when he learned it was going to be salmon, but he loved this and said, "I could eat this all day long." So, take that to the bank as an endorsement!

6 oz of salmon is 7 points, and the only ingredient in the glaze to have points is the mango nectar at 3 points per 5-oz serving.  I would say this *may* add a single point to each 6-oz portion of salmon at the most, so I'm assigning this dish 8 points per serving.

Tip:  Save the remaining mango nectar into ice-cube trays for the next go-around with this recipe.  Each cube is one ounce, so fill up 5 cubes, Freeze and bag 'em up for later!

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. rice vinegar
5 oz. mango nectar (3 points)
2 6-oz salmon fillets about 1" thick or just one big piece like mine to divvy up later


INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until mixture reduces by about half.  Strain the mixture through a sieve so that all you have left is the liquid ingredients.

Line your broiler pan with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray.  Broil the salmon about 5 to 6 inches away from the heat.  Pull out and baste with the glaze about every 5 minutes if very thick piece like mine was or about every 3 minutes if thinner. The salmon is done when it Flakes easily with a Fork. Once done, apply one more basting of glaze and serve.

POINTS: 8 points (with glaze)


Friday, September 18, 2015

Chicken-Salad Stuffed Jumbo Shells for 8 Weight Watchers Points



One thing I miss when I'm trying to count calories, points, etc. is cold macaroni salad.  Granted, it's the tuna kind, but this is a very easy-to-make chicken version that even Mr. F liked. (I can't get him to try cold pasta salads, but since this didn't look like one, he gave it a go and was pleasantly surprised.  He asked for more. ;)

My version, as pictured, is a little different than the recipe listed below.  I left out the olives and used canned no-salt-added chicken breast, as well as regular Italian dressing. Sometimes I just don't have the patience for shredding chicken breasts.

INGREDIENTS:

6 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (not macaroni)
3 Tbs light mayo
2 Tbs fat-free Italian dressing
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 c. chopped cooked chicken breast
2/3 c. drained canned chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
2 Tbs chopped ripe olives
6 fresh basil leaves

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare chicken salad filling first.  Combine the mayo, Italian dressing, and onion powder in a medium bowl and stir well.  Add in the chicken, artichokes, bell pepper, and olives and stir well.

Cook the pasta shells for about 10-13 minutes according to package directions and drain well.

Line each shell with a fresh basil leaf and then add in about 2-1/2 to 3 Tbs of chicken salad mixture. You can serve at room temperature or chill well before serving.  Top with some salt and pepper and serve atop a bed of lettuce.

YIELDS: 6 shells or 2 servings of 3 shells each

POINTS: 8

Nutritional Information:  306 calories (25% from fat); 24.5g protein; 8.4g fat (2.3g saturated); 31.1g carbs; 2.7g fiber; 81mg cholesterol; 3.1mg iron; 624mg sodium; 62mg calcium

It's a Warm, Nutty, Peach Shortcake Dessert for 4 Points!



Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.  Such a nice, warm treat.  I call it peach shortcake!  The kids and Mr. F had their's with a bit of Fat-Free whipped cream.  Mine without.  The whole batch comes out to 16 points, so I divided it into 5 servings for only 3 points per serving.  At 4 servings per batch, it's 4 points per serving. Add a point if needed should you use the whipped topping!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 c. low-fat biscuit and baking mix, such as Bisquick
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 Tbs chopped pecans toasted
3 Tbs skim milk
1/8 tsp butter extract
2 c. drained canned sliced peaches in juice
2/3 cup white grape juice (I used apple juice since I had that handy)
1/4 tsp applie-pie spice


INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine the baking mix, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the toasted pecans in a bowl.  Add the milk and the butter extract and mix just until moist, then set aside.

Combine the remaining sugar, the peaches, the grape juice, and the apple-pie spice in a medium saucepan (that you can later cover) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Drop the dough into 4 mounds on top of the boiling peach mixture and cover.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes or until dumplings are done.

Spoon peach mixture evenly into 4 dessert dishes and top each with dumplings.

You can store the leftover peaches in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

YIELDS:  4 servings

POINTS:  4

Nutritional Information:  189 calories (17% from fat); 2.6g protein; 3.6g fat (0.4g saturated); 38.1g carbs; 0.6g fiber; 0mg cholesterol; 1.2mg iron; 184mg sodium; 38mg calcium


Raspberry-Chocolate Floats for 2 Weight Watchers Winning Points



This is such a yummy treat for ONLY 2 Weight Watchers Winning Points!  The whole Family loved it.  I need to keep searching for a sparking water brand that does not have artificial sweetener in it because I don't like that taste, but other than that, this was good!  Granted, it could get expensive with the price of raspberries these days, but I have my own raspberry patch in my own backyard and it's raspberry season! So when I managed to pick 3 whole cups of raspberries today, this was on the menu this evening! I used black raspberry-flavored sparkling water and used low-fat chocolate frozen yogurt.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 c. fresh raspberries
4 tsp sugar
2 c. raspberry-flavored or plain sparkling water, chilled
1 c. chocolate low-fat ice cream (total, as only 1/4 c per serving)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place raspberries in a food processor and process 15 seconds or until smooth.  Now for the annoying part, strain out the seeds in a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and toss out those pesky seeds.  Add the sugar into the puree and stir well.  Set aside until sugar is well incorporated and no longer gritty.

Combine 2 tablespoons raspberry puree and 1/2 cup sparkling water in each of 4 glasses and stir gently.  Add 1/4 cup ice cream to each glass. Serve immediately.

YIELDS: 4 servings

POINTS: 2 points per serving

Nutritional Information:  94 calories (17% from fat); 1.9g protein; 1.8g fat (0.8mg sat); 18.5g carb; 0g fiber; 5mg cholesterol; 0.3mg iron; 0 mg sodium; 60mg calcium

Winner Winner Hoisin Pork Dinner!



Oh Em Gee.  This is delicious.  If you're looking for a new way to prepare pork tenderloin, this is it, and for only 7 Weight Watchers Winning Points. I chose to use brown rice instead of the long-grain rice as listed.

Pictured with it is also a recipe for Cracked Pepper Linguine that I'll share in another post.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2"-thick slices

6 Tbs water
1/3 c. dry sherry
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs hoisin sauce

2 c. hot cooked long-grain rice, cooked without salt or fat
1/4 c sliced green onions

cilantro sprigs (optional)


INSTRUCTIONS:

Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, add oil, and place over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the pepper and garlic and saute 1 minute.

Add pork and cook 4 minutes per side or until browned.  Remove pork from skillet and wipe skillet clean with a paper towel.

Combine the water, sherry, cilantro, and hoisin sauce in skillet and cook over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Return pork to the sauce-skillet, turning to coat well.

Place rice on a platter. Place pork atop the rice and spoon the hoisin sauce from pan over top of pork medallions.  Sprinkle with green onions and garnish with cilantro sprigs if desired.

YIELDS: 4 servings (serving size 3 ounces of pork and 1/2 cup rice)

POINTS: 7 points

Per Serving:  303 calories (23% from fat); 27.1g protein; 7.9g fat (sat 1.9g);  29.1g carb; 1g fiber; 79mg cholesterol; 2.6mg iron; 195mg sodium; 34mg calcium

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Freakin' Scapegoat?





As some of you who Follow me on Facebook have seen.  I've recently had the worst period of my life thus Far.  I'm not dwelling on it because I want it to be over.  My struggle is with deciding how detrimental to my life and emotional health certain patterns are.


Things got hairy at the beginning of summer.  We learned my youngest had something medical going on.  I then decided to tell Family members about it, which is when the crap hit the Fan. Suddenly, I was being accused of trying to place blame for his condition, when I wasn't.  I tried to stop the escalation by asking to be allowed to Finish what I was saying.  I wasn't allowed to Finish what I was saying, and I wasn't heard when I said, "That's not what I'm doing."  My mother then made it personal and then downright insulting.  Basically, the one who was accusing me of things in a time I needed to communicate my healthy and perfectly normal Feelings, who was therefore behaving irrationally called me "F*cking irrational."  Well, that Flew over like a Fart in church.  Suddenly, I had had enough.  Who knew all it took was me having a boatload of worry for one of my babies to reach the moment I would snap?  Not me.  I had always prided myself on understanding people.  I've been told I have the patience of a saint.  I've been told I put up with way too much ugliness in others that I somehow always Found a way to excuse away.  But I wound up saying, "F*ck you." and hanging up.  I hit the proverbial wall.

Enter my Father....I tried communicating with him via e-mail details that I knew he was receiving incorrectly.  My mother was telling people "They think it's....." No.  We had a diagnosis.  There was no thinking.  She just didn't want to hear me for some reason. My message to him was delivered from my head in my voice just matter of factly, in sort of what is called a Flat affect.  It was just Facts.  It was where we've been and where we were headed with an invitation to call or write if he needed or wanted more information. The response I received from him was shocking to me.  He told me that *MY* "cruel behavior" and moodiness was getting old. Okay, so now I'm effing irrational, cruel, and moody at a very critical and stressful time of my life.  I wasn't expecting this and I was not expecting it now. I certainly didn't need this right now either.

Enter one out of three sisters now.  Upon learning my father was in the hospital from another relative, I called her.  I asked her if she knew he was in the hospital because I really had no idea of knowing whether or not she did.  She lives in another state and has often been the last to know.  When she expressed her disappointment at being the last to know or being left out of a loop, I always replied with something along the lines of "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you didn't know or I would have called sooner."  I had no reason to think or feel that she was actually blaming me because I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. So when she indicated she did know and my next question was how long he had been in (NOT how long she had known because that isn't important to me), she answered with yesterday.  It was at this moment I made a terrible mistake.  I thought she got me.  I thought she knew I would never be mean to her, let alone blame her for something I wasn't or that she was not responsible for.  When I said, "Hmmm...and nobody thought to call me.", I thought she would say something like, "Wow.  Who knew she'd (my mom) take it this far?" because I'm usually the first person notified. That isn't what happened at all.  She lit into me for blaming her.  I tried to tell her I was not placing blame on her at all, but she wasn't having it.  It suddenly became painfully evident she had been waiting to pounce on me, and boy did she.  She said so many hurtful things, I just let her go until it ended. I Finished it off by saying, "Don't ever call me again."

She immediately called my husband and left him a voicemail crying about how disgusting and terrible and another adjective that escapes me she felt about what she had said to me.  She cares more about what other people think of her than anything in this world.



I had to take a step back and I told my husband that this goes waaaaay deeper than me not actually being freaking irrational.  These people were letting me have it over what seems like a lifetime of abuse or meanness/mistreatment from me.  It told me what they thought of me, and that hurt. This was my life for so long intermittently and I always found a way to just think "It's Family.  This is normal strife. We'll all get over it."  But I think I'm the only one who has to get over it all of the time.  It's only because I am able to overlook it, put it aside, brush it under the rug, and, more importantly, excuse it away that things move Forward. It's been so long since it has happened that I feel hoodwinked into thinking my family had emotionally grown to the point that we could ALL overlook the Faults of the others, but nope.  It's a lot of pots calling this kettle black.  I could say all sorts of things to them, but I don't, because I loved them despite their shortcomings and Faults. The picture they have painted for me as to the person they think and have always thought I am, disturbs me greatly.  That is not me.  I know better.

The other problem is that I unwittingly walked right into it.  My mother has been antagonistic, trite, and calculating toward me for years now.  It was about 1-1/2 years ago, lying in bed with my husband while on vacation with her and my father that I said alloud that I am going to have to enter this trap because they obviously wouldn't quit with me avoiding it.  They just kept picking and picking and picking....throwing out absurdities that were supposed to be left standing as they were presented. When I did it, I just did it.  When I was confronted with a "I know how you feel about XX." and I interrupted with "No you don't. You've never asked me how I feel about it." it somehow meant *I* was being confrontational.  This has grown from there in their minds because they can't see their own faults. I went in thinking that if they didn't like what I had to say, which is always truth, then they'd stop baiting me and I could therefore stop pretending like their antagonistic and superior attitudes weren't bothering me.  Nope. It just blew up in my face. Since it was not my traditional family-appointed role, it was interpreted as me doing all the things they were actually doing. I guess that's what they call passive aggressive and I should have just said, "Stop it. I don't like your antagonistic attitude toward me."  The counselor says it wouldn't have made a difference because that is also breaking from my normal familial role and they would not have liked it any more or less.

How does someone say to you, "I know you don't mean it..." or "You mean well, but...." and continue to berate you in a vicious way?  Isn't that the equivalent of saying, "I know you have a good heart and make mistakes, so please allow me to beat you in the head with all of your Faults anyway"?

How does someone accuse you of putting them in a bad place by sharing the maddening or Frustrating conversation you had with another equate to you putting them in a bad place when they turn around and do the same exact thing with the conversation they just had with you, and even be bold enough to do it with your own spouse?

What does it mean when the person berating you keeps chanting, "I am NOT an asshole!" when you've never said they were.  How do they not see that they Feel like an asshole because they are wrong instead of blaming you for making them Feel that way?

How does someone you've asked to allow you to Finish what you were saying in practically a whisper so your kids don't hear proclaim you to be effing irrational?

How does me asking you if my child is wearing a helmet in your go-kart equate to me making you feel like an "inadequate adult"?

There's more, oh so much more, but I'll stop here because it's getting long. 

Luckily for me I had already decided to seek counseling over my mother's troubling behavior by the time the sister entered the Fray, which she coincidentally always does when my mother is mad at me.  (The counselor says it is no coincidence by the way, which seems consistent with the reading I am doing on scapegoating.)

I've seen my counselor three times so far.  She's not what I expected.  I am looking for some input as to what I've done wrong....rather, some insight as to why I lost my cool on my mother, as it's my lifelong goal to grow and learn. That's not what I got.  When I told the "eff you" story, I was expecting her to give an indication as to how wrong she thought that was or at least ask me, "Why do you think you responded so harshly?"  Instead, I got a "Good! Your mom sounds like a real witch!" as she jotted down notes.  I had nothing for her but a surprised face.. I think my mouth was actually agape at this moment. lol And then she added, "And your dad sounds like a real jerk too." Wow.



She told me I'm the Family scapegoat.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I've done some online reading about it, and it does Fit in a LOT of ways, but it also does not fit in a lot of ways.  I Feel like my world has been rocked a little.  I'm trying to understand it all.  One thing is evident, scapegoaters will never apologize because they do not recognize their own faults.

I am Fascinated by it though.  I had  no idea there was such an in depth breadth of information regarding a Familial scapegoat role. I Feel like my sisters and I may be better Friends if it weren't for some pigeon-holing conditioning we received during childhood conflicts.  I'm not sure what they have been told about me and therefore believe from people in such trusted positions of authority in our family, but I know what I've been told about them.  I used to believe my "trusted source", but now I see clearly.  Now I see that I don't know what the truth in my Family is.  I learned to stick up for them as I grew in insightfulness, but did or do they just believe what I assume they've been Fed about me?  Was/Is my insightfulness really just a bad habit of excusing the bad traits/behaviors in others?  I don't think so.  I think I have an ability to recognize that while I don't understand exactly why someone has done, thinks, or feels the way that they do, I love them anyway.  I don't feel I get that same consideration at all.

When I asked why this sister didn't like me way back in high school, I got "You're jealous of her because she's skinny and pretty, and she of you because you are smart and successful at what you do."  Even then, I spoke up and said that I was not jealous of her.  I could see some things in her that made me feel sorry for her, a lot of inconsistencies and manipulation.  As it turns out, the scapegoat is usually chosen for Failing to go along with Family dynamics or to play along in their role in the Family, so that I can agree with.  Did she say the same thing to this sister when I wasn't around?  If so, how would she internalize that?  I thought it was a pretty mean and manipulative thing to do then, just as I do now, but if someone who is already insecure hears such a thing...what happens?  Is a lifelong connection made to hate the person you will never measure up to?  It feels like that is what has happened.  I'm only now starting to wonder if I'll never be able to change that perception.  If not, why bother?

I am not, however, a victim.  When I identify a problem, I immediately work toward solving it.  It's who I am, so the parts about scapegoats having their lives ruined via their own actions and conditioning for that role, I don't and can't relate to.  I am in no way criticizing the scapegoats who find themselves in this position; it's just not me.  So here, again, my ability to move beyond and their inability to is what makes me the "indifferent" scapegoat. It's easier for them to not understand and band together in that "understanding."  All I can say is that they are so wrong.

I have an appointment with my counselor tomorrow in which I have some scapegoat questions.  There is a price to pay when you are the scapegoat and choose to step out of that role.  She tells me the whole Family Freaks out and is Forced to Find a new way to operate without the scapegoat.  We shall see.  I think she will have some insight for me as to how it really applies to me.  I Find it Fascinating really.  It's my understanding that the only way to Fix this is for me to Forget everything that has been said to me, but I'm not sure I can anymore.  I wonder what that means?  I wonder how this might play into many aspects of my life.  I seek clarity. I have not embraced this scapegoat title.....yet.  All I know is this is not normal and very unfair and mean.  They are mean and miserable people in my eyes.  They live to fight these days. I would never talk to someone the way they repeatedly speak to me.

Then there are these circular thoughts that I have....what if they were seeing a counselor who likewise has told them they are scapegoats?  lol  It's crazy...just plain craziness I tell ya.