Rigatoni Cheese and Tomato

There are just some dishes that are too good to want to try to lighten up. One of those dishes is my grandmothers Rigatoni Cheese and Tomato.  This is a dish my grandmother made for years. My aunt makes it occasionally and my mother tends to make it every so often. As traditions pass on, I of course picked it up, but it’s something I’ll only consider making if family are coming over that enjoy it.
This dish is very different in comparison to regular ole macaroni and cheese dishes. Instead of cheddar this is made with good ole American cheese. The cheese is melted down and incorporated with canned peeled tomatoes that are crushed as they’re being added in.  It makes this delicious cheesey, tomatoey sauce that adheres to the pasta as it begins to cool.
This is nota pasta dish you eat while it’s pipping hot. You have to let this sit for about 20-30 minutes for the cheese to cool down a bit and it sticks to the pasta. If you try to eat it hot the cheese and tomato mixture makes a bit of a “soup” and it’s too runny to enjoy the way it should be enjoyed.
Serves 10. 9 Points Plus Values. ¾ cup serving
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound Rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound American cheese
  • 29 oz. canned Whole peeled tomatoes (do not drain)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook your pasta to your liking. I recommend a step or two beyond al dente.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, add in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Begin to add in canned tomatoes, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands.
Keeping an eye on your cheese and tomato mixture, mix together gently to incorporate the two mixtures together and melt the cheese fully.  When the cheese mixture is fully melted and incorporated, turn off the flame.
Drain pasta and return back to the pan you cooked the pasta in.  Pour the cheese and tomato mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.
Allow the mixture to sit or 20-30 minutes before enjoying. This dish is best enjoyed warm as this way the cheese and tomatoes are able to adhere to the pasta more.

Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt NonFat Blueberry

Greek yogurt has undoubtedly become my one and only favorite type of yogurt. That sometimes is quite surprising to me because when I first introduced myself to greek yogurt I was not a fan. Not even by a long shot. But I decided to try a few different flavors and different brands and with that I began to find flavors and brands I preferred more.
So, in my quest to try the various Trader Joe yogurts, I picked up a container of Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt NonFat Blueberry and I am glad I did. It’s a moderately thick yogurt and it’s not tart, but rather flavorful. The blueberry flavor is prominent, moderately sweet and just a perfect snack/meal. I sometimes find getting a blueberry greek yogurt that isn’t mild in flavor and/or straight up tart can be difficult. Knowing that I enjoy this, makes me happy because it’s a back-up for another blueberry greek yogurt I tend to enjoy.
A container is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite greek yogurt?

Facial Transformation


When people tell me they didn’t even recognize me … I now know why. I resemble the same person, or as I’ve been told “You look vaguely familiar…”
After seeing this side-by-side comparison, I can now see why some give me a triple take because they’re not quite sure if I am who they think I may be!
The difference between the photos? 3-years.
The similarities between the photos? Same girl. Same type of car selfie ;).

13-Bean Soup with Chicken Meatballs

13-bean soup is a soup that I’ve been making for over 2-years … but I primarily make it for myself in the fall/winter months because that’s when I enjoy soups/stews the most.  Every time I have made the soup, I change up the flavoring a bit and incorporate different meats into it (chicken sausage, chicken meatballs, diced ham) but this last batch of soup has been the best I have made.
The one thing about this soup is that after it’s put into containers in the refrigerator the bean tend to swell up further and retain the water, so I add additional water to the serving to thin it out as much as I’d like.  I find I enjoy it best the way I make it (by not soaking the beans overnight) because it allows my soup to be on the thicker side.  After the second day I tend to put the entire batch of soup back into a soup pot and add in some boiled Jamaican dumplings. It gives it a bit more body and just makes it feel a little homier.
Serves 17. 1 cup serving. 5 Points Plus Values.
Ingredients:
  • 29 oz. Bob’s Red Mill 13-Bean Soup Mix
  • 1 pack Al Fresco Tomato & Basil Chicken Meatballs (16 meatballs), cut into smaller chunks
  • 20 cups water, plus additional when cooking
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 pound baby carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 packet Goya Sazon Seasoning
  • 3 packets Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate
  • 1 pod Knorr Homestyle Chicken Stock
  • 2 packets Swanson Beef Flavored Concentrate
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
Empty bag of beans into a bowl and rinse. Place beans into a big soup pot and cover with water, leaving about 2 inches of liquid above the beans. Place pot onto an open flame and bring to a rumbling boil then cook for 30 minutes.  When done strain the liquid from the beans using a colander.
Spray the bottom of soup pot with non-stick cooking spray. Add in onions, celery and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add beans and water to the pot, and then stir in chopped carrots. Add in salt and black pepper.
Cover and let the mixture gently boil together for roughly an hour. Stir the mixture occasionally, keeping an eye on the water as it will evaporate and the beans will soak up some of the water.  Add 1 cup of water at a time, as needed.
Sprinkle soup with sazon and ham concentrate, stir in. Add in 2 packets of Swanson beef concentrate and gently stir in the Knorr homestyle chicken stock (make sure it melts completely).
Gently incorporate the chopped up chicken meatballs and stir to combine. Cover and allow to gently boil for an additional hour, until beans are softened and no longer hard/crunchy.
If the soup liquid starts to get low, add in 1 cup of water at a time.

McDonald’s Holiday Pie

McDonald’s makes one of the best apple pies which has been a staple on their menu for as long as I can remember.  A number of years ago McDonald’s started offering limited edition pies depending on the season. I know that they had offered a S’Mores pie (which is gross), a pumpkin pie (which is fabulous), and Strawberry & Cream pie (which is alright, but nothing to write home about). But I had never known that they had offered a McDonald’s Holiday Pie up until a few weeks ago.
On the way home from running a few errands, I swung through McDonald’s and decided to pick up a holiday pie to give it a try. Incase you’re not familiar; the holiday pie is a vanilla custard pie which is held inside a flaky, crusty and then topped with a bit of sugar and rainbow sprinkles.  The pies are served warm as is the case in all McDonald’s dessert pies. It’s a holiday party in a little handheld pie … and upon the first bite it brings that party to your mouth.
It reminded me of a Boston Cream donut without the chocolate atop of it. If you go into it with an open mind, not expecting to taste an apple pie, it’s truly delicious.  Secondly, if you enjoy custard in any way, I think you’d find this to be a slam dunk.  My mother tried it and since she truly only likes the apple pie and typically is a fan of flan or coconut custard pie, she wasn’t a fan. But regardless … this was a slam dunk for me.
A pie is 270 calories or 7 points plus values.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite pie at McDonald’s?

Archer Farms Chocolate Chip Crispy Cookie Chips

A while back when I had seen the Hannahmax Crunchy Cookie Chips seen hereposted all over outlets like Instagram, etc., I initially couldn’t get my hands on them. But I was able to get my hands on the Archer Farms Chocolate Chip Crispy Cookie Chips which are available at Target.
I had these tucked away in my cabinet and finally pulled them out because I was on the hunt for something sweet. These are what an ideal cookie chip should be. They taste like your average chocolate chip cookie chip – not overly sweet, but just perfect. They’re your classic chocolate chip cookie just thinner, flatter and crunchy. There are chocolate chips spread out evenly in ever cookie and they’re really delicious. The one downside is I had a bad case of the “dropies” and kept dropping the bag of cookies on the floor and ended up with a bunch of cookies that were crumbled into not much of anything. But my loose gripping hands aside I (and the boyfriend) give these 2 thumbs up.
A serving, 3 cookies, is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Archer Farms Cookie Chips?

Swiss Miss Limited Edition Candy Cane Hot Cocoa

While making a quick run through the grocery store I noticed they had a display up for the new winter flavored Swiss Miss. I figured since it’s getting frigid cold out I’d get a box of Swiss Miss Limited Edition Candy Cane Hot Cocoa to try out.
My boyfriend is more of a mint flavored drink/dessert guy over me. I’m more of a peppermint hard candy girl. One night it was sooo cold I decided to boil a kettle of water and make myself a hot cocoa. Opening the package up, you wouldn’t quite be able to tell its peppermint (aside from the red and white striped marshmallows). After adding the water, I was awarded with a noticeable peppermint scent. The flavor is undoubtedly chocolate with a peppermint infused flavor in it. It’s definitely more peppermint than I’d say the marshmallows gave off. But nonetheless it tastes like Christmas.
An envelope packet is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite Swiss Miss flavor?

Bolthouse Farms Holiday Nog

Egg nog! One of those beverages that I love … but I find the calories/points associated with it not even worth it … so I don’t have it. When Thanksgiving/Christmas roll around I start eyeing the egg nog selections hoping someone will invent a delicious egg nog that’s calorie/points plus friendly. Last year I tried the Silk version and it’s tasty but it’s as thin as water. Egg nog is delicious because of its flavor, but also due to that recognizable thick and creamy texture.
While at Wal-Mart I noticed they carried Bolthouse Farms Holiday Nog, so I checkd the nutrition facts label and stuck the bottle in my cart.  I’ve only tried Bolthouse Farms salad dressings, so I wasn’t entirely sure how the nog would be.  After cracking open the bottle as a late night treat, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was thicker in consistency. Very egg nog-like which was appreciated well before I even took a sip.  After I did take a drink I was sold … this is hands down the best lighter alternative to egg nog that I have had. It’s thicker, it’s creamy, it’s nutmeggy, it’s vanillay … and it’s just a party in a glass.  I’m truthfully quite floored as to how good this is so once I finish the bottle I purchased, I will gladly purchase another.
A 4 ounce serving (1/2 cup) is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you ever tried a Bolthouse Farms limited edition beverage?

Quick & Easy Jamaican Rice and Beans

This is my quick and easy way to make Jamaican Rice and Beans. Typically when making rice and beans, I’d soak dry red kidney beans in water overnight, then boil them the next morning and when done incorporate my rice, onion, coconut milk, seasoning, and water (that the beans were boiled in) together to cook together until the rice was done. Although … somebody (*raises hand*) forgot to soak the beans so authentic rice and beans was out of the question. So I opted to go with the quick and easy method … using my rice cooker.
It’s quite simple and delicious. I admit something about boiling it all together on the stove gives it that much more pizzazz but this is good and if no one saw it coming out of a rice pot, they truthfully wouldn’t know.
Serves 9.  9 Points Plus Values. 1 cup serving. OR Serves 18. 5 Points Plus. 1/2 cup serving.
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups uncooked white rice (I use Goya Golden Canilla Parboiled Rice)
  • 15 oz canned Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz canned Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 6 ¼ cups water (since you are using the light coconut milk, you need to cut back on the water because you have 1 ¾ cup of light coconut milk – in total you want 8 cups of liquid as it’s normally 2 cups water per 1 cup rice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 pieces of Thyme (optional)
Add rice, beans, coconut milk, water, onion, salt, pepper and thyme (if using) to rice pot.
Set rice pot on to cook, “set it and forget it.”
Your dish will be done when the rice pot is finished cooking. Make sure to remove the sprigs of thyme before serving.
Serve up with one of your favorite dishes (I recommend curry cabbage, curry chicken stewed chicken or jerk pork/chicken).

Joseph’s Falafel Veggie Patties


I’ve mentioned this numerous times but I am a big fan of Mediterranean/Lebanese foods. They’ve always been foods that I ate growing up because I live in an area where there are a few Lebanese bakeries and restaurants, plus my uncle is Lebanese and will make dishes and share with the whole family. I’ve seen these Joseph’s Falafel Veggie Patties at the grocery store a few times, but always waited to purchase because I already had a plan as to what I was eating that week.  Well, this week I knew I had hummus I wanted to have so I decided to give these a try.
If you’re not familiar with falafel it’s a vegetarian dish made of chick peas or fava beans which are blended and incorporated with spices, and typically deep fried.
The Joseph’s falafel is absolutely delicious and in a way reminds me of vegetarian kibbe. It’s very flavorful, filling and a perfect addition to salad alongside some hummus and even pita bread. It’s been my lunch of choice for the past few days. Outside of homemade falafel this is one of the best premade falafels I have had.
A 2 patty serving is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you ever had falafel?