Annie Chung’s Organic Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers

Chinese potstickers used to be one of my favorite side dishes to order from my local Chinese restaurant. These days I don’t order them any longer because I’m really the only one who likes them, and an order is just too much and possibly a little too tempting to have.
One day while shopping at Whole Foods I decided to pick up a bag of the Annie Chung’s Organic Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers because they were exceptionally low in points plus/calories and they were in a comfortable serving size for me.  After watching The Big Bang Theory re-runs back-to-back my boyfriend and I were both craving Chinese food (incase you don’t watch the show the gang tend to eat Chinese food quite often). So much for television swaying food choices, huh?  My boyfriend ended up ordering Chinese food for himself and I decided to take these potstickers out of the freezer.  I cooked them up in a non-stick pan, fried them for a couple of minutes on each side to get coloring on it, then steamed them. They came out perfectly. I asked my boyfriend to get potsticker sauce for me from the Chinese restaurant so I used tat to drizzle over my potstickers and they were absolutely perfect.
The potstickers contain no preservatives, no MSG, no trans fats and are made from organic chicken, cabbage and onions in a light wrapper. The wrapper isn’t as thick as traditional potstickers, but they’re light, flavorful and delicious.
A serving is 7 pieces which is 220 calories or 5 points plus values.

Turkey Sausage Stuffing


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Stuffing is one of those foods that I look forward to on Thanksgiving. Since it’s my favorite dish and since I’ve been told in the past I make a pretty mean stuffing … I was tasked with making the dish again this year.  In years past I’ve used boxed stuffing (just the plain dried bread pieces) and I’ve also used homemade cornbread, etc. My personal favorite has been the cornbread turkey stuffing, but since my mother isn’t a huge fan of it … I decided to try a different route this year to make all happy.
The stuffing turned out quite well. It was delicious, meaty, filled with delicious filling and spiced just perfectly. As mentioned previously I’d have loved it a whole lot more if it were a cornbread variety … but maybe next time!
12 servings. 4 Points Plus Values. ½ cup serving.
Ingredients:
  • 17 slices Light Italian bread (I used Market Basket store brand), dried
  • 16 oz Jennie-O Turkey Breakfast Sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Smart Balance Light Butter
  • 4 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 7 tsp salt free Bell’s Seasoning (I enjoy a bold stuffing flavor, feel free to cut this into 1/3’s and taste testing to your liking)
The day before set the bread out to dry, making sure to flip each slice over halfway through the drying cycle. You can speed this process up by putting it into the oven to dry up – but be careful as it can burn.  I found a good 12-hours and it was perfectly dry.
Cut dried bread into smaller cubes. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat melt the butter. Once melted add in the chopped onions and celery. Stirring frequently, cook until the onions and celery are translucent. Transfer cooked mixture to a bowl and set aside.
Using the same skillet, cook the turkey breakfast sausage over medium high heat. Break up sausage into bite sized pieces as the meat cooks.  The sausage will release some liquid; make sure to drain the liquid off to help get some searing on the sausage bits.
Add the onion and celery mixture back into the pan, toss to combine. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and half the Bell’s seasoning. Stir to combine, then begin adding in large handfuls of the dried bread pieces – incorporating with the meat and vegetable mixture.
In ½ cup measurements, pour the liquid over the stuffing mixture and stir to combine until all ingredients are incorporated.
Sprinkle with remaining Bell’s seasoning, stirring to combine.
Transfer stuffing mixture to a non-stick casserole dish. Bake until the top is crisped – roughly 20-25 minutes.

Pan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

A few weeks ago I was watching YouTube videos, catching up on some videos in my subscription box when I refreshed the page and decided to watch a new video by Laura Vitale. In case you don’t know who she is, she has a cooking channel on YouTube – where she also has a blog where all of her videos and corresponding recipes are posted.  I’ve been an avid watcher of Laura’s videos for a while and have wanted to try a few recipes but honestly haven’t gotten around to it.
But it just happened that I watched her roasted sweet potato video and a light bulb went off in my head. I had sweet potatoes on the counter that I had been meaning to use and since I had bacon in the fridge and we were planning on bacon for dinner. We’ve got a winner-winner chicken dinner!
I watched the video and maneuvered downstairs to the kitchen before I even checked her website. I followed the general gist of the recipe, but catered it to my tastes to make it “point friendly”. The end result was a completely delicious side dish and my boyfriend was a big fan … which I found to be surprising because he’s not a potato kind of guy.


Serves 4. 4 Points Plus Values.
Ingredients:
* 2 slices Trader Joe’s Center Cut Bacon (or reduced fat bacon)
* 1 tbsp minced garlic
* 1 pound & 3 oz. uncooked, peeled sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
* 1 1/4 tsp olive oil
* Salt & Pepper, to taste

After potatoes are cut into chunks, layer onto a microwave safe dish all in one layer and microwave for 3-4 minutes.

In a large non-stick skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and chop up, but do not discard residual bacon grease.

Add olive oil to bacon grease and add in microwaved potatoes. Make sure potatoes are all layered into the bottom of the pan and allow to cook for 5-6 minutes. Turn to continue cooking on the other side for an additional 5-6 minutes or until potatoes are cooked throughout.

Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Return chopped up bacon to the pan and toss — then serve.

Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan

I have enjoyed naan for a very long time, but I have never had garlic naan.  So when I saw on Instagram that there was one available, I made sure I picked up a bag of Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan. The naan is sold in the freezer section and comes with 4 pieces in a bag.
When you open the bag you are awarded with a nice fresh garlic scent.  According to the packaging it’s hand-stretched bread that’s topped with garlic and coriander and then baked in a tranditional Indian clay tandoor oven.  Since the naan is frozen, it has to be heated in the oven for roughly 10 minutes before served up. My oven cooks incredibly fast so I only cooked it for about 5-6 minutes before I had to pull it out of the oven.
It was perfect alongside an Indian dish for dinner – but as I’ve seen on Instagram this would be fabulous as a base for pizza.  Add a little sauce, a little cheese and a few toppings and you have the start of a deliciously amazing garlic bread pizza.  A whole naan is a pretty decent size (larger than a personal size pizza) so it would make a complete meal with a side salad.  Possibilities are endless … as long as you’re a garlic fan!
A whole piece is 190 calories and 5 points plus, but I have found ½ is enough to be a side along with dinner – which comes out to be 2 points plus.
QUESTION:
Have you tried the garlic naan or regular naan at Trader Joe’s?

Weight Watchers Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Pasta Salad (Weight Watchers BLT Pasta Salad)

After purchasing my Weight Watchers Family Style cookbook at my meeting, I skimmed through the book and attached sticky notes all over the place on recipes I wanted to make at home. I found this cookbook to be one of the better ones (in my opinion) because there are far more recipes I’d be willing to try not only for myself but for my family.  I realize I’m the only Weight Watcher in the house BUT that doesn’t mean my family can’t eat healthier.  But when cooking for others, I do have to take in others tastes but most importantly dislikes. For instance, my boyfriend doesn’t like cheese – so if I do make a dish that involves cheese, I have to remove his portion before the cheese is added.  But I will say outside of that one dislike I don’t really change up my style of cooking because at the end of the day, those who enjoy my dishes have no idea they’re healthier recipes.
So, with that when I saw the Weight Watchers Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Pasta Salad recipe in the cookbook, I decided that was going to be part of dinner on Friday. And part of dinner it became!  I had made Skinnytaste’s version last summer and loved it, so I figured this one had to be equally delicious – and it was!  It was a hit, a serving was huge and it made a batch for 4 individuals which meant it wasn’t going to be lying around for a long time (which I wouldn’t want it to because of the tomatoes and lettuce in the dish).
I strongly recommend giving this recipe a shot because it’s totally worth it!  1 3/4cup is only 7 points plus!

Sautéed Veggies w/ Olive Oil and Garlic

I stayed at my aunt and uncles house for the week dog, cat and bird sitting.  While there my uncle pointed out he had a garden outback and I should make myself at home and pick fresh veggies.  So I did just that … because if I didn’t, frankly, they’d end up going bad and that just defeats the purpose of a garden.  That morning I was able to pick a fresh zucchini, yellow squash and a bunch of fresh green beans. Not entirely sure what I wanted to do with them I cleaned them and put them in a bowl on the counter – then later in the afternoon decided I’d make a quick sauté to go alongside dinner. It was perfect. Fresh, delicious and perfectly garlicy (since I LOVE garlic)!
Since I didn’t want to drown them in butter and oil as most sauté dishes tend to go, I decided to blanch the vegetables in salted boiling water for a few seconds each and removed them from the pan and drained them before sautéing.
Serves 3. Serving size: 1/3 recipe. 1 Points Plus Value.
          1 medium zucchini, sliced
          1 medium yellow squash, sliced
          2 cups Green beans, “veins” removed
          1 tbsp olive oil
          1 tbsp minced garlic
          Black pepper, to taste
          Salt, to taste
          Oregano, to taste
          Garlic powder, to taste
Bring a pot of salted water up to boil. Once boiling drop sets of vegetables into the water and allow blanching for under a minute.  Remove blanched vegetables from the water and continue until all vegetables are blanched and removed from the water. Drain any excess liquid from the vegetables.
In a non-stick skillet, add in 1 tbsp olive oil and a tablespoon of minced garlic.  Allow to sauté for 30 seconds or so before adding in the vegetables. Toss and stir vegetables to allow evenly coating in the olive oil. Sprinkle vegetables with garlic powder, black pepper, salt and oregano. Toss to combine.  Allow to sauté for 3-4 minutes before removing from the flame.

American Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those side dishes I truly enjoy. Sure, it’s associated with summer months but I do eat potato salad all year round. It’s one of those versatile dishes that can be made in a number of ways. It doesn’t have to be loaded with mayonnaise – other condiments and ingredients can be added to boost flavor while keeping the dish simple and tasteful. I personally like for the ingredients to shine through without the mayonnaise overpowering the dish and essentially “stealing the show.” So here’s my take on American potato salad.

Serves 5. ~2/3 cup serving. 4 Points Plus Values.

Ingredients:
– 1 1/4 pound red skinned potatoes
– 2 eggs, hardboiled (1 whole w/ yolk, 1 white only)
– 1 tbsp white vinegar
– 1 tbsp yellow mustard
– 3 tbsp red onion, finely diced
– 1/3 cup Hellmanns Light Mayonnaise
– 1 tbsp sweet relish
– Salt, to taste
– Pepper, to taste

Rinse potatoes and add to a pot filled with salted water. Add eggs and bring to a boil, cook until potatoes are fork tender.

Drain water and allow for potatoes and eggs to cool, remove potatoes from pan and cube. Add to a mixing bowl.

Remove eggs and shell. Mash one whole egg, remove the yolk from the second egg and mash the whites – discarding the yolk.

Add the onion, relish, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper to your potato and egg mixture folding the ingredients together. Add in the mayonnaise and gently fold together until the mixture is well combined.

Adjust salt and pepper seasoning to your liking and enjoy!

Eggplant Caponata


Eggplant Caponata is a dish my aunt actually introduced me to. She’d make this for parties at her house and it is totally delicious. I enjoyed it so much she gave me the recipe.  I decided to whip this up (actually, I tripled the batch – which wasn’t the original plan but I peeled two eggplants which gave me 9 cups of eggplant) to bring it to my aunts party as an appetizer dish to put out on the tables.
The tedious task sits in cutting up all the vegetables, but once that’s done its smooth sailing. It comes together quickly, simmers for a short period of time and can be eaten either hot or cold. The caponata does taste so much better after it’s had a chance to marinate in the fridge 1-2 days.  I would say, I’d eat the caponata over pasta while it’s hot, but then after its cold I prefer it with crackers.
Serves 15. ~ 1/4 cup serving. 2 points plus.
          3 cups eggplant, peeled and cubed
          1/3 cup olive oil
          1 medium onion, chopped
          3 cloves garlic, crushed (or you can use minced jar garlic)
          ½ cup chopped green pepper
          2 celery stalks, chopped
          ½ cup black olives, chopped
          1 can tomato paste
          ¼ cup water
          2 tbsp red wine vinegar
          1 tsp oregano
          1 tsp salt
          1 tsp black pepper
          ½ tsp sugar
Place a large pot over medium, high heat.  Add in oil, garlic and onions and sauté until onions are slightly translucent.
Add in eggplant, celery, and green pepper. Stir frequently and cook down until eggplant begins to soften.
Add in olives, sugar, black pepper, salt, oregano, and red wine vinegar.  Mix tomato paste and water together and gently fold into the mixture until all ingredients are well combined.
Lower heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve hot or cold.

Trader Joe’s Hot & Sweet Cherry Peppers

When I spotted these Hot & Sweet Cherry Peppers at Trader Joe’s I immediately had to put them into my shopping cart.  I love hot peppers – crushed, pepper rings, etc. I figured these would be delicious and they reminded me of a homemade treat my mother made when I was younger.
My mother used to make homemade pickled hot and sweet pepper rings.  She’d mix together hot peppers and green peppers, put them into a pickling juice (which had some sugar in it) and can them. We’d eat them with crackers, on sandwiches, in salads, etc.
I opened the jar and I can certifiably say these definitely “bring me back” to my childhood.  They’re hot and sweet but deliciously decadent at the same time.  The peppers are soft and they give you a hint of sweet but then a mild burn.  Delicious!  I’ve been enjoying them on salads, but they’d also be delicious with crackers, on sandwiches, etc.
There are 8 servings in the jar, 1 ounce being a serving size.  A whole serving is 1 points plus value, whereas anything under a 1 ounce serving is 0 points plus values.  What a great little hidden jewel!
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Hot & Sweet Cherry Peppers from Trader Joe’s?

Trader Joe’s Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I purchased these Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms from Trader Joe’s and have snacked on them here and there since purchasing.  Since my boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms these were solely a purchase for me to make to enjoy.  I enjoy stuffed mushrooms (fried or baked) but my favorite all time stuffed mushrooms are from a recipe my mom whipped together.  I admit, it’s the stuffing I love the most, but with the mushrooms I enjoy it quite a lot.
The mushrooms are stuffed with just as the box describes a spinach and cheese stuffing.  I did find I needed to cook them slightly different than how the box describes.  I baked them at 425 for 10 minutes and then poured out the water from the pan (as the mushrooms cook [frozen] they expel water) if you don’t pour the water out the mushrooms just kind of stay soggy and gross.  After the water is poured out, I increase the temperature to 450 and cook for the remaining 10 minutes.  It then crunches up the top and helps to draw some of the excess liquid out of the mushroom caps – not all (I’d prefer them dryer) but they’re good.  They’re not the best stuffed mushrooms I’ve ever had, but they are a nice treat every once in a while.
The greatest part is a serving size is 2 mushrooms and it’s 2 points plus, or 1 point plus per mushroom.
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Spinach & Cheese stuffed mushrooms from Trader Joe’s?