Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash and Ricotta | WW 5 pts

This was good, but I love butternut squash. I didn't have fresh thyme, so I substituted fresh rosemary and it was great. The recipe calls for 8 oz of pasta, use this amount, don't use more or there won't be enough sauce and the pasta will be dry...yuck. Also, this dish is best on the first day, it doesn't work well for leftovers. CB had about three servings of it because he liked it that much. I had one and a half servings equalling about 7 points.

Also, if you're not on WW, this recipe can be easily made into a heartier version using full fat ingredients and more sauce. I liked it this way though, it hit the spot.
I won't be posting for a few days...just a lot going on with a wedding this weekend and then work occupying every freaking waking minute from Sunday until Wednesday. I know I should be happy to have a job, especially with the whole economy and financial market eating a shit sandwich right now, but man, can a girl get a whole weekend to herself...and maybe a few of her nights off too.
Just asking.
So, the recipe....I've yet to make any of the muffins or cookies, hopefully I'll have time to do that next week. I'll try to throw some rogue recipe posts in between now and next Thursday, but no promises.
Pasta with Butternut Squash and Ricotta
Weight Watchers
2 sprays cooking spray
20 oz butternut squash, fresh, peeled and cubed*
1/8 tsp table salt, for cooking pasta
12 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, penne
1 1/4 cup fat-free skim milk
2 Tbsp white all-purpose flour
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
1 Tbsp thyme, fresh, chopped, divided - I USED ROSEMARY AND IT WAS GREAT!
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Coat a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Place squash on prepared baking sheet; roast until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place in a large bowl and mash.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 10 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in mashed squash and 2 1/2 teaspoons of thyme. Add sauce to pasta; toss to mix and coat.

Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish; dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and then sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Place squash on prepared baking sheet; roast until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place in a large bowl and mash.
Rating = Damn Good (the first day, really sucky as leftovers)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Barley Asparagus Risotto_WW 3 Points

Friday night was great. I had the whole house to myself as CB had his arse parked on a bar stool for boys night out. I had time to go to the market, buy groceries and then actually cook them. Wonderful. I perused the WW website for something that I thought would hit the spot and still not be over 6 points per serving, because I was feeling hungry and I wanted to be able to have a nice big bowl of whatever I made as long as it didn't end up tasting like shit.

This was great. I have to admit, I was skeptical, but it ended up being really wonderful and I had enough left overs that CB and I ate it for dinner on Saturday and although this didn't fill him up and he used it as a side dish to his main meal, it really was very tasty and I would not have second thoughts about making this again for non WW peeps.

So, how do I feel about my first week on WW. Well, the first two days were really hard, I felt like I was constantly hungry and was aggravated by how quickly my points seemed to disappear. By the third day when there was movement on the scale, and the points seemed to last longer because I was making better food choices the plan began to feel easy to live with. I'm extremely glad that I decided to give it a try. I think I'll be able to stick with this, I hope I'm not being to premature here...I hope that the plan continues to work for me in the upcoming weeks...we'll see.

So, at then end of one week I have lost a grand total of 4.0 pounds. I have 9 pounds to my goal. Fingers Crossed.

Barley-Asparagus "Risotto" with Balsamic Vinegar
Weight Watchers

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion(s), minced
1 cup uncooked barley, use quick-cooking pearl variety
3 cup fat-free chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chives, fresh, sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in barley and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more.

Add broth, cover and simmer over low heat for 8 minutes; stir in asparagus and simmer 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in chives and vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

3 WW points per serving

Rating = Damn Good

Friday, September 19, 2008

Checking In

Ok. So I spent some time searching the web for weight watchers recipes that I think are blog worthy. I'm going to be making them this weekend. I'll post on Monday and let you know how much weight I lost in the first week. Yeah, I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat for that one.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Vegan Banana Mango Ginger Sunflower Seed Bread

I made this ages ago, took a picture, loaded it to Flickr and then just forgot to blog it. So, it's not weight watchers, it is low fat, not counting points kind of low fat, but still, you can eat it and not feel terribly guilty about it, just stop at one piece.

My first day on weight watchers wasn't terrible. I can see how it would be difficult to know the point value of a lot of food that I would typically bake or cook, so it will just be best for me to stick to ww inspired recipes until I get the hang of things. I still don't quite understand the activity points that you can earn through exercise, considering I'm sure most people just starting the program aren't banging out 8 mile runs like I did today. That run would pretty much translate into 8 extra points, I think, which seems a little counterproductive to me, right now. So, we'll see how it goes, I'm just doing it on line, I'm not going to meetings, I'm sure those are more effective, but with my schedule it's just not an option.

Here we go...

Low Fat Banana, Ginger, Mango Sunflower Seed Bread 
Inspired by Veganomicon
2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas
1/4 C applesauce
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 C sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 C all purpose flour
3/4 tsp b. soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 C chopped dried mango
1/8 C chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 C toasted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas, add sugar, applesauce, oil and molasses, whisk briskly to incorporate. 

Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. Fold in the mango, ginger and sunflower seeds. 

Transfer to the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Rating - Damn Good

Weight Watchers

So, I signed up for weight watchers this morning. I don't want to lose much weight, actually, the healthy weight calculator told me I couldn't lose more than 18 pounds to remain in a healthy weight range. I don't want to lose 18, I want to lose 10. I've actually lost the same two or three pounds over and over again and I'd really just like to take them off and keep them off this time.
I signed up for three months...hopefully that's all it takes, but be prepared for weight watchers inspired recipes until Christmas.

Wait, Christmas is only three months away...good grief.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Curried Bean Salad | 101 Cookbooks

I had a nice weekend at home; although it was spent stripping wallpaper, removing wall paper glue, sanding the walls, prepping the walls, cutting in the paint on the walls, and then finally painting the walls; when it was done, it was done, and I knew there was not another square inch of wall paper left in the house that needed removal. This was a good feeling.

Watching Notre Dame pull off a win in their first game of the season, albeit not an impressive win, but a win, was a good feeling.

Getting a 7.5 mile run in on Sunday morning was a good feeling.

Watching Tom Brady go down clutching his knee in agony on Sunday afternoon was definitely not a good feeling. I've graduated from denial into acceptance. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason....I don't know what the reason is for this, possibly for Bill to show the country what a great coach he is no matter who his quarterback is. Maybe it's so Matt Cassell who's been playing second fiddle to someone ever since he was in high school can shine and make a name and a career for himself, or maybe it's just to make the season more interesting. Whatever it is, I feel bad for Tom, the season looks completely different today than it did on Sunday morning, and we'll see what happens.

I've been paying a lot of attention to 101 cookbooks lately because she has such a great collection of vegetarian recipes and ideas. I like her style of cooking and every time I visit her website I find something that I tag to make later. I didn't follow this recipe to the ingredient, because I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, but I used it as a guide for what I had in the pantry and refrigerator and I think it came out really well. Here is the original recipe, and below is how I made it with what I had on hand.

1 can black beans
1 can black eyed peas
1 can white beans
1/2 medium red onion sliced into half moons
3/4 cup celery chopped

1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp finely chopped crystalized ginger
juice and zest of one lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped

In a large bowl combine beans, red onion, and celery. Make the curry vinaigrette by mashing the garlic clove with the salt into a thick paste. In a bowl or jar whisk together this garlic paste, the curry powder, ginger, lemon juice/zest and olive oil. Whisk well, taste, and add adjust flavors/salt if needed. Pour about half the dressing over the beans and toss to combine,. Add more dressing a bit at a time (i just used the whole thing).

I served this just after I made it, but I think that the left overs tasted much better the next day after the flavors had a chance to meld together.

Rating = Damn Good (better the next day)

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I made it to the grocery store last night. I bought food. I will cook this weekend.