Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blueberry Almond Bundt Cake

I love bundt cakes. For some reason I just really enjoy using my bundt pan over any other cake pan. I still have some blueberries in the freezer from a few weeks ago and we're going to visit my mother-in-law tomorrow, so I wanted to bring something.

You can purchase ground almonds but I just threw some whole ones (with skin) into my magic bullet and made my own.

I used apple sauce to cut back on the fat (and Weight Watchers points), but I assure you, this cake tastes just as delicious as it would if you used butter! If I wanted to cut even more points, I might try using all egg whites. Maybe next time since I ran out of the liquid ones and don't like to waste yolks.

12 servings
(Per serving with glaze : 5 PointsPlus / 200 Calories)
(Per serving without glaze : 4  PointsPlus / 160 Calories)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup apple sauce
3 large eggs
2/3 cup ground almonds
1 cup frozen blueberries
Glaze (optional)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray and flour your bundt pan.

Combine flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl with a whisk.

Combine almond extract, apple sauce and eggs in a bowl then stir into your dry mixture with a rubber spatula. Stir in the almonds followed by the blueberries.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze; combine confectioners' sugar with almond extract and 1/2 a teaspoon of milk. Add a few drops of milk at a time after that until you achieve the desired consistency. Drizzle over the cake.

Tools I used to calculate nutritional information/points:
The recipe analysis tool from Spark People and the
Weight Watchers points calculator.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Shrimp Creole

Here's another recipe I found on Weight Watchers. Regular paprika will work just fine in this recipe if you don't want it to be spicy. Add 1 teaspoon of that in place of the hot paprika or chili powder.

I had some tomatoes in the fridge that were getting soft so I used those instead of canned tomatoes. I removed the seeds so it wouldn't add to much extra liquid to my dish.

I was using the Nutritional Calculator from Calorie Count but after entering this recipe, I realized that it wasn't very accurate. It told me that 1/2 cup of rice was about 380 calories. So now I'm using the one from Spark People. It takes a little more effort to select one ingredient at a time, but it's worth it if the result is a more accurate calculation.

I used 1 bag of frozen, thawed shrimp.
I think it had 16 shrimp in it, and that wasn't enough for 4 servings,
so I'm going to say 20 shrimp in the recipe below. 5 shrimp per serving.
But if you're not on Weight Watchers, I'm sure you could add more.
There's plenty of sauce.

You can see some of the clumps of flour. That's okay, it'll melt into the sauce.

Don't forget to remove that bay leaf before serving.

4 servings (1/2 cup rice, 5 shrimp and 1/4 of the sauce)
(Per serving : 5 PointsPlus / 210.5 Calories)

4 teaspoons I Can't Believe it's Not Butter (or whatever you like)
1 tablespoon flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/2 a red pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon hot paprika (or 1/4 teaspoon smoked chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, seeded
20 uncooked shrimps, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 cups steamed basmati rice

In a nonstick pan, heat the butter and flour. Stir it up into a paste and cook it for about 3 minutes or until it starts to brown a little. Stir in the vegetables and cook another 3 minutes until they get soft. Stir in the spices and bay leaf.

Add the stock, wine, tomato paste and tomatoes and stir until combined. Let this simmer on medium high for about 10 minutes or until some of the liquid is absorbed and the sauce starts to thicken.

Stir in the shrimp and let them cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until they're pink, then stir in the lemon juice and parsley before serving. Serve over rice.

Tools I used to calculate nutritional information/points:
The recipe analysis tool from Spark People and the
Weight Watchers points calculator.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Banana Blueberry Muffins - 4 PointsPlus (Weight Watchers)

These may be small muffins, but they're delicious and full of flavour! I actually got this recipe from the Weight Watchers website. Their recipe used 2 large eggs but I had egg white substitute in the fridge so I used 1/4 cup of that instead. It didn't change the points value though. I also added blueberries. I think next time I'll try this recipe with 1/4 cup of apple sauce in place of the oil. It cuts the points in half!

12 servings
(Per serving : 4 PointsPlus / 130 Calories)
(With apple sauce : 2 PointsPlus / 92 Calories)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup egg white substitute
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium bananas, mashed
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl with a whisk.

In a measuring cup, measure the oil to 1/4 cup, then add egg substitute until it reaches the 1/2 cup mark. Add the milk, vanilla and maxhed bananas and give it a good stir with a fork.

Stir the wet mixture into the dry just until combined, then stir in the blueberries.

Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups and bake for about 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chicken Breast With Mushrooms Peppers and Onion - 4 PointsPlus (Weight Watchers)

Normally I'd make a recipe like this with sour cream added to make a sauce, but since I'm counting Weight Watchers points, I decided to leave the sour cream out and let my husband put it on his tortilla as a topping. I used cooking spray to fry this up, but you could use oil if you like. You can also try making your own cooking spray. There's a great post by Natures Nurture which has been pinned thousands and thousands of times!

I actually used to make this dish all the time when I was on Atkins years ago. I'd add the sour cream to the pan to make a sauce (and more on top of the salad), then, put this mixture on top of my salad with cheddar and have a delicious low carb dish.

6 servings
(Per serving : 4 PointsPlus / 158 Calories)

6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 sweet bell pepper, sliced (any colour)
1 small onion, sliced
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 5oz each)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of low sodium chicken broth

Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray and set on the stove over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, peppers and onions and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Stir in the chicken then sprinkle the whole thing with the spices. Pour in the broth and give it another stir.

Simmer for another 6 or 7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve on tortillas or on top of salad. You can add toppings such as cheese, sour cream and green onions, but the PointsPlus or calorie count will change. A 7" whole wheat or WW tortilla is 2 PointsPlus and 1/6 of this mixture is plenty. Put some lettuce and tomatoes on it, maybe a little ranch dressing and you have a nice lunch too.

Tools I used to calculate nutritional information/points:
The recipe analysis tool from
Calorie Count and the Weight Watchers points calculator.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Black Bean Soup - 6 PointsPlus (Weight Watchers)

This black bean soup is fast and easy. I had some left over roasted tomatoes in the fridge as well as left over canned black beans that I used on my salad the day before.
I should mention that my 2 year old LOVED this soup. It's something to keep in mind when I don't feel like cooking meat.

V To veganize this recipe, use veggie stock.

Black Bean Soup
2 servings
(Per serving : 6 PointsPlus  / 259 Calories)

1 teaspoon avocado oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups black beans with brine, divided
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup roasted or grilled diced tomatoes (or about 1 1/2 cups canned)
1/3 cup canned corn, drained

Fry the onions and garlic in oil in a non-stick pot over medium heat until golden. About 3 minutes.

Transfer the onions and garlic to a blender and add 3/4 cup black beans, broth and spices. Puree until smooth and return to the pot.

Add the diced tomatoes (including any juices), corn and the rest of the beans. Give it a good stir.

Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

You could serve this with sour cream and cheddar, but then your points value will go up.

Linking To
You may also like
- Black Bean Soup with Chipotle and Toasted Cumin Seed Sour Cream
- South Beach Diet Black Bean Soup

Tools I used to calculate nutritional information/points:
The recipe analysis tool from Calorie Count and the Weight Watchers points calculator.

One Sunny Saturday

On Saturday it was beautiful outside. The kids were in the pool most of the day and I played around with the camera a bit in between loads of laundry. The natural light makes such a huge difference. I wish I could take all the food I make outside and photograph it, but most of the time it's already evening and I don't have the proper equipment to take perfect photos in my kitchen. I've been reading articles on food photography so I'll have to work on that. I should probably also learn how to operate my camera instead of guessing what the settings should be. Now there's an idea!

Longan Fruit

Grape Nerds. Something I hadn't had in ages!

This tree in my mom's backyard is pretty big. The birds love it.
This little one got the best spot.
Sweet summer watermelon. Yum!
I MUST try to make watermelon slush one day instead of paying $7 at the mall.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pop (aka Soda) Cupcakes

I'm sure you've all heard of Diet Coke cupcakes where you mix a box of cake mix with a can of Diet Coke. I'm not crazy about Diet drinks or sweeteners in general. The last batch of muffins I made with Splenda went straight into the trash. But if you don't mind sweeteners, then go ahead and use diet drinks if you like.

What I decided to do here, is make a small batch of cupcakes using a regular carbonated beverage. I had a bottle of blood orange flavour, but you could mix and match any flavour of pop with any flavour of cake mix. Some popular combinations are Coke or root beer with chocolate cake mix, ginger ale with spice cake mix or sprite with white cake mix. As you can imagine, there are so many more combinations you could try.

These didn't rise very much but they were extremely moist! Maybe I'll use a little more cake mix next time to see what happens.

4 large cupcakes

1 cup boxed cake mix
1/2 cup of a carbonated drink
semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F and spray your silicone muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mix all the ingredients together with a fork until well combined.

Divide the batter among 4 muffin cups and sprinkle on some chocolate chips. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before serving. You can frost or serve with Cool Whip, but I left them plain.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baked Fusilli (Pasta)

This recipe makes a lot of food. I ate about 1/8th of it and I was stuffed. I made a meat sauce and added a layer of sour cream (you could use ricotta, but sour cream is less expensive and very tasty). Next time I'll make half the recipe. It will be enough for us for dinner and lunch.

I used the plain flavour of spaghetti sauce. Don't use the ones that have added things like meat, veggies and spices as it could ruin the flavour of your dish. Or you could use homemade of course!

My store sells freshly grated Parmesan. If yours doesn't, splurge a little and buy a wedge. It tastes better than the can of powdery stuff you can buy.

8 servings

450grams fusilli (I used 1/2 a bag)
1 1/2lbs lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8oz mushrooms, diced (hide them from the kids)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 640ml jar of spaghetti sauce
1 1/4 cups sour cream
3 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Boil the pasta according to package directions. You want it a little under cooked because it will go into the oven later.

Meanwhile, cook the beef, onions, mushrooms and garlic in a large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Cook it until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are soft. About 10 minutes or so. You don't need to add oil, the beef has enough grease in it. If there's liquid in the pan, you can drain it, but mine didn't have any.

Stir in the oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper followed by the tomato sauce. You can turn off the heat at this point.

Drain your pasta well (do not rinse!) and dump it into the pan with the meat mixture. Stir it up.

Place 1/3 of the pasta into a 9x13" glass baking dish. Top that with 1/3 of the mozzarella. Add another 1/3 of the pasta, then spread the sour cream over the top of that. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the mozzarella. Now, another layer of pasta followed by the rest of the mozzarella and a good sprinkling of parm.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. I placed a pan under it just in case it bubbled over, but it didn't happen. Better to be safe. Cleaning the oven isn't my favourite thing to do.

Let it cool a bit before you eat it. It's hot!

Linking to
Recipe of the Week : Italian Cuisine

Linking to
Recipe of the Week : Pasta 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blueberries - Blueberry Recipe Round-Up

Yesterday I brough home 4 pounds of blueberries. I froze half of them and the rest are in the fridge. I like the ones that are still light in colour because they're sour.

Fresh Berries
Frozen Berries

Just keep them sealed in a bag in your freezer.

To freeze the blueberries, I rinsed them under cold water, then spread them onto a tray lined with a towel and paper towels. Let them dry as much as possible, then remove them from the towel and spread them out on the tray in a single layer. Freeze them like that. Once they're frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag.

Use them in smoothies, or one of these other delicious recipes! My kids like to eat them straight out of the bag. Don't worry, you won't break your teeth. They're not that hard!

Here are some other blueberry recipes you might like from other bloggers.

Blueberry Lemon Freezer Jam - Vegan Craftastic
Dehydrating Fruit - Backpacking Chef

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blueberry Cobbler

It's almost like the peach cobbler, only with blueberries instead. Don't forget to put some foil under it. This WILL bubble over and make a big mess.

Fruit Mixture
5 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
9 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons white sugar


Preheat oven to 425F

Rinse the blueberries and spread them on a towel to remove some of the water. Remove any stems that you see.

In a large bowl,;combine blueberries, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 9 x 11 glass baking dish.

Bake for 10 minutes. 

While the berries are baking, combine flour, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the flour mixture until it's crumbly. Stir in the water just until combined. 

Remove the blueberries from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them (I spread it out with a spoon). Sprinkle your cobbler with 2 tablespoons of sugar and return to the oven. Bake about 30 minutes until the topping is golden.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jasmine Rice with Peas and Shrimp

This was actually my first time buying Jasmine rice. I ran out of Basmati and I only like to buy a certain brand (which is only available in certain stores), so I had to pick up something else from the grocery store. This rice was on sale so I figured it was the perfect time to try it out. The flavour of the rice is very nice. The kids seemed to like it too.

I had to get a vegetable in there so I put some frozen peas in the pot with the rice and it worked out well. Salt & pepper in the rice is optional. I didn't use either. The bouillon may be salty enough. Taste it.

I removed the shell and tail from my shrimp, but I suppose you could leave them on if you wish. I just didn't want my littlest one to eat them.

3-4 servings

1 cup Jasmine rice
1 3/4 cups cold water
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
pinch of saffron, crushed
8-10 medium (uncooked) shrimp per person
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
oil or cooking spray for frying shrimp

In a medium pot, stir together the rice, water, peas, butter, bouillon and saffron. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and put the lid on. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. You may want to stir it a few times during cooking. Remove from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes with the lid on while you prepare the shrimp.

Place a little oil into a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, place the shrimp into it and sprinkle with the Old Bay. Cook the shrimp just for a minute or two then flip them over. Cook them for another minute just until they turn pink. Serve over rice.

Tip: Change it up a bit by stirring some chopped green onions into the rice just before serving.

Chicken Marinade

I had some chicken in the fridge that had to be used. I decided to marinate it. This is really simple.

3 servings

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt (depends on your soy sauce)

Combine all of the marinade ingredients and coat the chicken with it. Place in a container with a lid and marinate for several hours or over night. Grill or fry until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

Pineapple, Banana and Coconut Smoothie - Crazy Cooking Challenge

Welcome to the 10th Crazy Cooking Challenge! This month we made  fruit smoothies and shakes!

The recipe called for coconut milk which I'm sure would be amazing, but I used coconut flavoured almond milk because that's what I have. Well, it was still pretty amazing, but maybe not as coconutty. I need to stock up on coconut milk if I'm gonna keep making smoothies.

I found this recipe on a blog called make and takes. It's a wonderful blog and I think you should hop on over there sometime soon, because there are so many great ideas for crafts, recipes and family things.

Back to the smoothie. I chose a simple recipe with only a few ingredients. I have to say, the Magic Bullet is useless when it comes to crushing ice cubes, despite what the infomercial says. Mine didn't really break down at all so I had to scoop them out. If you're using ice in your smoothies, you should use a real blender. Even with the blender attachment, the Magic Bullet just doesn't do the trick. It works very well for smoothies without ice cubes though, and also worked well on the frozen banana slices.

2 servings (or 1 really big one)

2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1 medium banana (I keep sliced bananas in the freezer)
1/2 cup coconut flavoured almond milk (or coconut milk)
1/2 cup ice (I used 6 cubes ... and good luck with that)

Place all the ingredients into the blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to glasses and serve cold.