Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bacon and Roasted Pepper Quesadillas

I made this before I started Weight Watchers so I used the full fat cheddar, but you could use light cheese if you want, in order to save a point. Or maybe use turkey bacon?

I like to roast peppers all the time, so one day I was looking in the fridge and noticed that I had some roasted peppers and also some leftover bacon. What? Leftover bacon?! I wanted to eat it at breakfast, but I didn't want my family to think I was a pig for eating so much bacon by myself, so I did the right thing and saved it.

Taking a picture was a last minute idea. You can see I used yellow and orange peppers in here. Yes, that's a Bob the Builder plate. They're always on top of the real plates, so I use them all the time because they're easier to grab.

Bacon and Roasted Pepper Quesadillas
1 Serving | PointsPlus per Serving: 9
(or 7 PointsPlus using 1oz light cheddar and 2 slices cooked turkey bacon)

1 small flour tortilla
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 slices cooked crispy bacon (that's what I had left over)
1/2 a roasted pepper

Place the cheese, bacon and roasted pepper on one side of the tortilla and fold it over.

Heat a small pan over medium heat and cook your quesadilla on one side until the cheese starts to melt and the tortilla starts to turn golden. Carefully flip it over and continue to cook until the other side is golden.

Carrot and Mango Salad

Of all the places in the world, I found this carrot and mango salad at a Chinese buffet. I came home and I tried to make it myself. This is what I came up with. It's another easy salad, and it's SO delicious! And best of all, it's 0 PointsPlus!

I think the buffet used the most common green/red mangoes, but I much prefer the yellow ones. We call them Ataulfo here, but I think they have other names for these too. Sometimes mangoes can be sour so try to make this salad when they're in season. Check out this site to see how many varieties there are in Hawaii. Amazing!

Normally I take a regular carrot and use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons, but I only had baby carrots this time, so I just sliced them thinly. 

If you like this salad, you'll probably also like my Carrot and Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Carrot and Mango Salad
1 serving | PointsPlus per Serving: 0

1 large carrot, thinly sliced into ribbons
1 ripe (but not mushy) mango, cut into matchsticks
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Mix everything in a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Easy right? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kadhai Chole (chickpea curry)

This chole is really delicious, but it was nothing like the saucy one we get in the restaurants. I realized later that the reason for that is because Chole (Chana) Masala is the saucy one that I was originally looking for. Kadhai Chole is the dryer version.

I had a really hard time finding any kind of nutritional information for mango powder, so I just didn't count it in the recipe. I doubt a teaspoon of this stuff will make that much difference to the points value per serving anyway.

I also cooked my own chickpeas, but you could easily use canned ones if you rinse them first. To make your own, simply soak the dried chickpeas in water for several hours (I left them all night), then drain, rinse and boil for at least an hour, or until they're tender. Drain them and put them in the fridge until you're ready to use them.

There are many different masalas out there and I wasn't sure which one to choose. In the end I just picked one and hoped for the best. Clubhouse also had an Indian masala blend. I love the Tandoori Masala for chicken but I have a feeling it would also be good in this recipe. The mango powder is easy to find here in Toronto. We have so many different ethnic food stores here, and our regular grocery stores also have ethnic food sections in them. I also found a ready made spice mix for Chole, but I will try it out next time.

Kadhai Chole (chickpea curry)
Adapted from
4 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 6

1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 medium tomato, diced
2 teaspoons masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mango powder (amchur)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cup cooked chickpeas

In a pan, heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the cumin seeds for a minute until they start to smell.

Add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the tomato and cook for 5 minutes more stirring occasionally.

Stir in all the spices and cook for another minute.

Stir in the chickpeas and water and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

I served this with plain yogurt, but you can also serve it with some naan.

Here are some other Chole recipes that are a bit more saucy.
Spice up the Curry - Chole (Chana) Masala
Red Chillies - Chana Masala
Google - I ran a search - check out the images and click for recipes.

Easy Cucumber Salad

I needed some kind of salad to go with my lunch tomorrow but I was feeling really lazy. This 0 PointsPlus salad took only minutes to prepare. You can use a mandolin to get the cucumbers really thin, and use fresh dill if you have it. I only had dried today so that's what I used.

Easy Cucumber Salad
1 Serving | PointsPlus per Serving: 0

1/2 to 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber (I peeled it)
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used apple cider)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill (or use 1 tablespoon fresh)

Mix everything up in a bowl and chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Healthier Orange Chicken

The first time I made this recipe, I didn't have orange marmalade, so I used Apricot jam instead. I figured it would give me a kind of sweet and sour flavour. It was really yummy! And it doesn't really get any easier either! The second time I used orange marmalade and of course it tasted more like orange. Love it! I also cut open a blood orange by accident, but it worked just as well.

The only real issue I had with this recipe is that it tells you to deglaze the pan with vinegar. BIG mistake. My entire place smelled like fried vinegar for hours and it was not pleasant. Also, it splattered all over my stove and floor. I had to mop up after. The second time I got smart. I would recommend deglazing the pan with orange juice or a bit of water instead. I also took the pan off the heat for a minute to let it cool slightly, as I wanted to try and avoid a second round of splattering and mopping.

And here it is with the marmalade  Had I let it cook a minute longer the sauce would have been slightly stickier. This portion may look small to you, and it is, but when you're watching your portion size, this is very comparable to any of those frozen meals you'll find in the store.

Here it is with the apricot jam.

Healthier Orange Chicken
4 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 7

16oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
¼ cup all purpose flour
5 sprays of Pam (using oil will cost you more points, but if you’re not counting, go for it)
4 tablespoons orange marmalade (or apricot jam)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
Sriracha or other hot sauce (or chili flakes) to taste
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup), or 1/3 cup water/broth
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned, check the label)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Coat the chicken pieces in flour and tap off any excess. Heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat and spray it (or add oil).

Place the chicken pieces into the pan and fry on all sides until golden, then transfer them to a plate. The pan may seem like it's getting dry if you used the spray, but don't worry, nothing bad will happen. The chicken doesn't necessarily have to be cooked through at this point.

You can mix the sauce ingredients while the chicken is cooking. Mix the marmalade, soy sauce, chili sauce, orange juice and vinegar together and set aside.

Once the chicken is removed from the pan, add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few seconds.

Remove the pan from the heat for just a minute (I already told you I learned my lesson the first time), then add a bit of orange juice or water to the pan. Just a tablespoon or two should do. Return the pan to the heat and scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula.

Add the sauce mixture to the pan and let it simmer for a minute or two, then add the chicken back to the pan. Don’t worry, another few minutes and the sauce will thicken nicely. The chicken will finish cooking if it’s still a bit pink inside.

Serve with steamed rice. Add points for rice. 1 cup white or brown rice = 5 PointsPlus – ½ cup rice = 3 PointsPlus.

Banana Juice With Pistachios and Honey

This recipe has been published on!

My husband served this to me the first time I ever visited his house when we started dating. He doesn't really know how to cook, but this recipe is one thing he makes well. Of course, it only has 4 ingredients so it's a little hard to mess up. You can serve it with or without ice cream, or cut the recipe in half and make one serving in your magic bullet. I find it easier to clean than the blender. If you're adding ice cream and you're on Weight Watchers, remember to add the points. I'm only including the value for the juice.

You can also put your bananas in the fridge ahead of time if you want your drink super cold, but we usually just use them at room temperature.

Now, when I enter the info in the recipe builder, it comes to 8 PointsPlus per serving. That's a bit much don't you think? If you remove the bananas from the calculation (because bananas are supposed to be free), it works out to 5 per serving. I'll leave it up to you to track however you want.

I posted another version of this recipe last year and called it a smoothie. It's really the same recipe but it uses 2 bananas for one serving, which makes it nice and thick.

Banana Juice with Pistachios and Honey
2 servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 8

V To make this vegan, replace milk with non-dairy milk and replace honey with maple syrup.

2 ripe bananas
2 cups 2% milk
2 tablespoons pistachios
1 tablespoon honey

Place all the ingredients in a blender and let it go until smooth. Divide into 2 glasses. That is all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

With St. Patrick's Day coming up in a few days, I thought it would be nice to finally try making Irish Soda Bread. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but when I took it out of the oven it looked like a giant biscuit! How exciting is that?! Who doesn't love biscuits? It was really good, a little sweet from the sugar so we put butter and jam on it. It would also be nice with raisins as I see a lot of recipes for Irish soda bread have raisins in them. I think it would also be nice with cheddar in it, but then I don't know how Irish it would be.

Whatever you decide to do with it, you should definitely give this recipe a try. It comes together in minutes, but takes quite a while to bake up, and you need to let it cool before you cut into it or bad things will happen.

I'm going to make this for my daughter's St. Patrick's Day bake sale  They do it as a fundraiser every year at daycare. I'm sure it'll be a nice change from all the cupcakes that other mom's will bring. Last year I made several sweet items and they were all a hit. You can check out that post here.

Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from
12 servings (1 loaf) | PointsPlus per Serving: 5


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 325F and lightly grease a loaf pan (I also used a piece of parchment just in case).

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Beat together the egg and buttermilk, then add all at once to the flour. Stir just until combined. Finally, stir in the butter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. It looks full doesn't it? I thought it would overflow so I put a piece of foil under the pan. It did rise, but it didn't go over the edges.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. I checked it after 1 hour and it was still wet inside so I let it go for another 15 and it was perfect.

Let your bread cool for 15 minutes in he pan and then tip it out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Apparently it tastes better if you let it rest for several hours or overnight, but I don't have that kind of patience, do you?

Serve it with butter and jam, or add raisins to the batter before baking.

Spaghetti Squash with Sauce - Secret Recipe Club

This month I was given another wonderful blog to choose a recipe from for the challenge. Robin Restored is the blog and Robin has so many wonderful recipes to share. You'll also find some good recipes that won't cost you a lot to make, which is a bonus! Normally I would go with one of the cheesy ones, but I'm on Weight Watchers (again) so I had to choose something a little healthier. I also had a party to go to on Saturday so I couldn't even splurge. It was hard to choose but I decided to go with the Spaghetti Squash with Sauce.

I've been meaning to try spaghetti squash for awhile now. I also wanted to see if my kids would like it. One of them ate a bit but she didn't seem very impressed. The other one wouldn't even look at it, and my kids are pretty adventurous when it comes to food, so I was surprised. They knew by the appearance that it wasn't spaghetti. I thought it was pretty good, I guess I'm still a little more adventurous than they are. I was making steak that night so I decided to leave out the ground meat, and I forgot to put in some tomato paste. Oops! The sauce I used was a canned pasta sauce. I made a cheater version of Robin's recipe by using garlic and onion powder instead of the fresh stuff, and I followed the recipe on the sticker of the squash for cooking it in the microwave. I brought the squash home and was hungry, so I didn't want to wait for it to bake.

When I enter this recipe in the WW recipe builder it tells me it's 6 PointsPlus per serving because it's marking down 9 points for the squash!! If you just record squash in your tracker it's worth 0. Yeah, I'll go with that. I'm only charging myself for the sauce and cheese.

Spaghetti Squash with Sauce
2 servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 3 (sauce and cheese)

1 spaghetti squash (mine was about 2lbs)
1 cup tomato sauce (I used Primo tomato & basil)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the squash in the microwave for 1 minute. I'm not sure why, but that's what the sticker said to do, so I did it. Now, cut the squash in half lenght-wise and scoop out the guts. It looks and smells like a pumpkin.

Place the squash in a microwave safe dish with about 1/2 cup of water, and cover it. Microwave on high for about 12 minutes or until you can pull strings of squash away from the sides. Once cooked, scrape the squash completely into strings and place it in a bowl.

While the squash is cooking, heat the tomato sauce with all the spices until it starts to bubble. When the squash is done, mix it with the sauce and top with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

When the squash is cooked, you'll find that it really doesn't make a lot. I could probably have eaten the whole thing myself. Next time, maybe I will!