Bakers’ Corner Pumpkin Bread

I will truly try anything pumpkin as long as the nutrition information is worth it to me (and trust me, there are pumpkin items that just are not worth it to me).  One of the items that was worth it was this Bakers’ Corner Quick Bread & Muffin Mix – Pumpkin.  I had picked this box mix up at my local Aldi store and stuck it into the cabinet. Yesterday, I was in the mood to bake something since we didn’t have any baked goods in the house.
Deciding to skip the eggs and oil the boxed mix called for I opted to experiment with a handy dandy can of Diet Fresca. Diet soda works wonders in cake mix, so I thought why wouldn’t it work wonders in a pumpkin bread mix?  I added in almost the whole can of soda (minus, what would probably be 2 sips) and stirred it all up.  I added the contents to a Pam sprayed loaf pan and baked it off for 50 minutes.
The cake came out perfect. Moist and delicious – although I will say this is more spiced pumpkin than regular pumpkin.  You can definitely taste the spiciness in it because it’s right up there in the forefront. It’s not as spicy as other pumpkin desserts can be (such as spiced pumpkin pie) but it’s definitely noticeable.
Since I made the bread with soda, a slice (1/12th) was only 130 calories or 3 points plus values.
Do you like experimenting with baking?

Fit & Active 14 Calorie Bars

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Since an Aldi had opened in my area, I try to pop into the grocery store every once in a while to see whatever new goodies the store may have in stock.  In case you’re not aware, Aldi is a grocery chain which carries store-brand name products, as well as some name-brand products, for an affordable price.  There are staple products which are what I would define as part of the permanent line, while there are other products which are brought in depending upon the season.
I spotted the Fit & Active 14 Calorie Bars in the freezer section and was intrigued. I calculated the points plus values and they were immediately launched into my cart. Back when I did Weight Watchers under the points system, I purchased frozen popsicles that were 0 points plus but had yet to find a substitute … until I found these!
These bars are unique and different.  They are a vanilla cream bar that has popsicle fruit flavors merged together.  These are sweetened with Splenda, which is fine with me as I’m okay with artificial sweeteners. Texture wise, it’s what you’d get if you swirled ice cream into a popsicle and frozen it all together on a stick.  The popsicle portion is hard and crunchy while the ice cream portion is softer and creamy.  I have tried each of the three flavors (orange & vanilla, cherry & vanilla and raspberry & vanilla) that come in the box and all are good – I think the cherry and orange may be my favorite.
Each bar is only 14 calories and 0 points plus values!  You can “splurge” and have two bars for 1 points plus values! Quite a fun and fabulous food find!
What is one of your new favorite frozen treats?
TAGS: Shannon, Food, Aldi, Fit and Active, 14 Calorie Bars, 0 Points Plus, Food Find, Frozen, Ice Cream, Frozen Novelty, Popsicle, Snack, Treat

Quick “Chinese” food at home!


I love Chinese food … but I don’t necessarily like the unnecessary amount of fat and calories that come with some of my favorite dishes. With this I’ve learned to make some of my favorite Chinese dishes at home, to my own liking and I’ve also found some frozen items at the grocery store that I like to have on hand when I’m looking for something different.  This is a dinner we whipped together in under 25 minutes (it took that long because the chicken had to bake in the oven).
Mandarin Orange Chicken is one of the dishes I would like to get at a local Chinese buffet so when I saw this bag at Aldi, I picked it up to store in the freezer.  We baked them off in the oven and when done covered it in the mandarin orange sauce.  It was quite delicious because the chicken was more along the lines of a chicken finger.  The mandarin orange bringing a nice citrusy sweetness to the dish.  I had a 3 ounce serving for 6 points plus values.
The Vegetable Fried Rice is a frozen vegan (don’t be scared!) rice I had picked up at Trader Joe’s.  I normally make my own fried rice, but that takes preparation because the rice has to be stored in the fridge overnight to make it nice and cold.  So with a frozen fried rice, I can stir fry it up and we’re good to go.  This particular rice had me use a tablespoon of olive oil and stir fry it up in a pan.  It was quite delicious and will definitely be something I repurchase. A 1 cup serving is 4 points plus – 5 points plus if you consider the olive oil used to fry it up.
Of course with any meal I added in some steamed frozen broccoli because no dinner is a dinner without some sort of a fresh vegetable.  11 point plus for it all – far less than it would have been if we went out and got this dish at a restaurant.
Do you make quick “Chinese” food at home?

Asian Inspired Dinner!

This is an Asian inspired dinner I made a few weeks back for my boyfriend and I.  I knew we were going to have Bool Kogi so I decided to make rice (because it’s a staple – either rice or potato for us) and went with an oriental stir fry vegetable to give us some dimension and a flavorful side vegetable.
I had picked up a package of Bool Kogi Korean sesame marinated boneless beef ribs at Trader Joe’s and planned on grilling them up for us.  Since the weather wasn’t necessarily on our side that day, I decided to broil them in the oven and they turned out perfectly.  The flavor is good, but considering these are boneless beef ribs, the texture is a little funny.  I’ve always preferred pork ribs over beef (just a personal preference) but I did find this was pretty tasty.  I would repurchase, but only when we were looking for something “different” (just because I prefer pork ribs over beef).  Incase you are wondering, these are completely raw and are sold in the raw marinated meat section at Trader Joe’s. A serving is 3 ounces of meat and it is 6 points plus per serving.
I paired it with 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice.  This is the best tasting brown rice I have had!  3 minutes in the microwave and it’s perfect.  Nice, fluffy, filling and delicious.  I have a rice cooker, which can cook brown rice (which takes forever, BTW) so it’s crazy to me that you can have delicious tasting brown rice in 3 minutes.  Bravo Trader Joe’s – you never cease to amaze me.  A 1 cup serving is 5 points plus.
I then “stir fried” up Fusia’s brand of Oriental Stir Fry.  The package came with a mixture of frozen vegetables (broccoli, carrots, pea pods, peppers, onions, water chestnuts) along with a teriyaki style stir fry mixture.  I had 2 servings of vegetables, which calculated out to be 2 points plus.  The vegetables would be a great addition to add in precooked chicken and within minutes, you’d have an oriental stir fry on the table.
Dinner was literally done in 15 minutes and was quite yummy!  13 pointsplus total.
What is your favorite Trader Joe’s and/or Aldi product for a quick and easy meal?

Dinner: Quick & Easy Chinese Food at Home

A few weeks back we needed dinner, but had nothing truly planned.  I knew we had things in the freezer which were quick and easy to throw together, so after going through a few of the options my boyfriend and I decided on having “Chinese food “.  Dinner literally took 15 minutes to make, so this just goes to show if you have foods in the freezer, or even your cabinet, there’s no reason dinner cannot be thrown together quickly – even in a pinch, and be served faster than it would be to run out to get fast-food.  Granted, it just takes a bit more “effort” but not a terrible amount.
This particular dinner we decided to make the Fusia brand of chicken chow mein, which I had purchased at our local Aldi grocery store.  It comes with the noodles, the veggies, the chicken pieces and the flavored sauce packet.  I added a bit of Pam to the bottom of a skillet, along with a tablespoon of olive oil, emptied the contents of the bag into the frying pan (minus the sauce packet) and let its do its thing – stirring it occasionally since it was frozen it wasn’t sticking, etc.  I then submerged the sauce packet in a bowl of warm/hot tap water.  As the veggies, chicken and noodles start to defrost I stir it continuously and when everything is softened and hot I empty in the sauce packet, stir and let it simmer for a second or two before turning off the flame.
For a side of protein I made the Trader Joe’s BBQ Teriyaki Chicken – which is quite simply the easiest thing to make in a pinch.  The chicken is fully cooked, so you add it into a microwave safe bowl, which you cover with plastic wrap.  You microwave it for – I believe 5 minutes.  While the chicken is steaming/cooking in the microwave, you set the sauce packages in some warm water to aid in defrosting them.  When the cook time is up, you simply add in the sauce packet, stir and put back into the microwave for a minute or two and wah-lah, like magic it’s done! 
When the chicken was done I tossed in a bag of Trader Joe’s steam bag fresh green beans.  3 minutes later they were done.  Seriously, these are some of the best steamer green beans I have tried – my local super market sells a different brand but I find they are not nearly as crisp as the Trader Joe’s brand is.
The entire meal was 10 points plus – 1 of those points plus going towards the olive oil used to cook the lo mein.
Do you have quick “throw together” meals on hand for days where you haven’t quite planned dinner?