Recipe Review: Quick Lemon Berry Trifle

28 Jun

It has been way too long since I’ve updated.   For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on a home project that is consuming my life.  The only workout I’ve been getting (other than bellydance once a week) is painting.  I have told myself several times this week that I was going to make time for the treadmill, but life happens and it gets put off until “tomorrow”.  Maybe once this big project is complete,  I will get back to my normal routine.

I haven’t been in the kitchen as much as I should have been in the past couple of weeks, but I do have a few recipes that I can’t wait to share.

The first is the Quick Lemon Berry Trifle.  I am a huge fan of trifles.  They are so easy and you can make them with just about any combination of cake, brownies, cookies, pudding, fruit, pie filling, etc.   Plus, they are just so visually appealing!  This particular trifle sounded like the perfect blend for a summer party.    I first made this recipe for friends and it seemed to be a big hit, so I made it again for my in-laws, who also gave it rave reviews.  I’m sure I will make this trifle again and again.   The leftovers are very dangerous thing to have around though- I couldn’t stay away from it!    If you are looking for something quick, easy, and light (not to mention pretty) this summer, try this trifle!

Quick Lemon Berry Trifle

16 1/2 cup Servings @ 2 pts each/ 120 cals

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 2 pkg.  (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Lemon Flavor Instant Pudding, or any other flavor
  • 2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
  • 4 cups  mixed fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries), divided
  • 42 NILLA Wafers
Instructions:
  1. BEAT milk and pudding mixes in large bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP. Reserve 1/4 cup berries for garnish.
  2. ARRANGE 21 wafers on bottom and up side of 2-1/2-qt. bowl; top with layers of 1/3 of the pudding mixture and half each of the berries and remaining pudding mixture. Top with layers of remaining wafers, berries, pudding mixture and COOL WHIP. Garnish with reserved berries.
  3. REFRIGERATE 1 hour.

Special Extra

For extra lemon flavor, toss mixed berries with 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 Tbsp. lemon zest before using.
Source: Kraft

Bollywood, here I come

8 Jun

Day 3 of writing everything down on paper- so far so good!   Although today did include yet another break room food mishap.  Today we had peanut butter cookies AND praline pecans (homemade by one of my favorite patients).  How could I resist?!?  I did have a taste of each, but I did the best that I could with nutritional info and wrote down every bite!

Homemade Praline Pecans (picture via iPhone- quality not the best):

After work, 3 of my friends and I headed to our first of six Bellydancing classes.   I have tried Bellydancing workout videos in the past, but I have to say that a class is the way to go.  It was so much fun, and much easier to follow in real life after learning proper form.  Form really is everything!   The class was very full, and all beginners, so we didn’t have to worry about looking ridiculous- we just hung out in the middle of the room.   Despite the fact that it was just the first night and we were learning the basics, we still got a great workout.  I’m sure I will be sore tomorrow, and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be such an upper body workout!  I highly recommend bellydancing if you have a class near you.  Drag a friend along- it definitely helps with accountability plus working out with friends is so much fun.   =)    I also highly recommend Groupon if it’s available in your area- that is how we learned of this class and got a phenomenal deal!

Back to basics

7 Jun

Despite tracking calories, watching what I eat in general, and working out like crazy, the scale just seems to be going in the wrong direction lately.    I keep fluctuating between anywhere from 3-8 lbs over goal.  It’s so frustrating, but at the same time, I know I could be doing better.  I could be eating more fruits and veggies and less processed foods.   I could be making more meals at home and eating out less.    Sometimes it is just so hard to make the right decision and eat better with so many convenience foods out there staring me in the face!

So this week, I’m back to basics.  I am writing everything down on paper again.   I am measuring out all of my portions and using my food scale again.  I am tracking WW Points again instead of just calories.  (Well technically, I’m doing both- entering it all into MyPlate, and then calculating the points from there with my point sliders).   I am literally forcing myself to do better.  As I type this right now, I so want to go into the kitchen and grab a snack, but I’m out of points for the day, plus I’m not even really hungry!   I know all the tricks about finding distractions, but sometimes it seems like nothing can get my mind off of food.

Back in 2003, when I first joined Weight Watchers, it all seemed so easy.  I was so motivated to lose the weight.  Once I was out of points, that was it, I was done for the day.  I’d even go to bed early to avoid snacking.  I would only buy the healthiest foods and snacks.  I would save up all those extra points for weekend splurges.  Now it seems like I can barely make it through a single day without a splurge of some sort.  The more time went by, and the more weight I lost, the more I learned how to cheat myself, or convince myself that one more little snack wouldn’t hurt.   In the beginning, it was so exciting to learn the system and see the weight fall off almost effortlessly.  (Cutting out regular sodas alone probably accounted for at least 5 lbs!).   Now that the novelty of that has long worn off, I have to find other ways to stay motivated.    Fitting into my clothes should be motivation enough, but not even that keeps me away from the cupcakes in the break room at work.

I’m hoping that next week, I will have better news to report!  =)

On a more positive note, tomorrow night I start a 6 week-long Bellydancing class with a few of my friends.   I’m excited to try something new and to have a definite activity on the schedule each week.   I will definitely report back after the class, but I’m sure it will be a blast!

What’s something new you are going to try this week?

Recipe Review: Makeover Greek Spaghetti

1 Jun

Some of my favorite memories of my best friend and I revolve around Greek food.  We discovered our love of Greek food together way back in the day at a little place called The Castle.   Anytime I visit her, we make it a point to eat there, (and when she visits me, we try our best to find a suitable Greek restaurant).  Now anytime I have Greek food, or see anything even remotely “Greek”, she is the first person I think of!   Some people might say we are a little obsessed.

So it was, of course, my love of all things Greek that led my eyes immediately to this recipe on a page full of other random recipes.  You can probably imagine that I had high hopes as I was whipping this one up!

This was one of the few instances that I didn’t mind putting a little effort and work into dinner, despite having been at work for 8 hours and then the grocery store for another hour.  I mean, it’s GREEK- it had to be good!   I won’t lie, this recipe was a lot more work than most things I cook.  I prefer to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.

Once all the ingredients were in the bowl, I had to stir… and stir…and stir.  It seemed like no matter how much I stirred, it just wasn’t thoroughly mixed.  Even when I finally thought I was done, and poured it into the baking dish, I realized there were still areas of just spaghetti and no “stuff”.    Finally, after cooking the chicken, and the spaghetti, and defrosting and draining the spinach, and mixing and mixing and mixing, it was ready to go in the oven.

While I waited the 30 minutes for it to bake, I had a wonderful summer salad.

In my salad:  lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, croutons, and Marzetti’s Light Citrus Poppyseed dressing.   This is one of my favorite salads of all time!  Plus, I think Marzetti’s salad dressings are the best.

After my salad, the spaghetti was finally ready.   It looked so appetizing:

And after all of that waiting, anticipating, manual labor……. this recipe was a big disappointment.  It was just bland and seemed to be missing something in the flavor department.    It wasn’t bad and it was definitely edible, which is a good thing since it’s going to be dinner tomorrow as well.  I had just hoped for something so much more!  Maybe with a little tweaking, this could be a fantastic recipe.

Makeover Greek Spaghetti

10 Servings @ 442 calories, 13 g fat, 3 g fiber

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (16 ounces) spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/3 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain. Return spaghetti to saucepan. Stir in the chicken, spinach, soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, celery, onion, green pepper, pimentos and lemon-pepper.
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk flour and milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in bouillon. Pour over spaghetti mixture and mix well.
  3. Transfer to a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray (dish will be full). Top with mozzarella cheese, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

Source:  Taste of Home

Recipe Review: Barbecue Burgers

27 May

Last week, after reading about it on another blog, I decided to sign up for a free trial of Plan To Eat.*  It’s a recipe organizer, meal planner, shopping list all in one.  So far I am loving it and have gotten my mom hooked as well.  I planned my meals for the week and generated my shopping list in a matter of minutes!  Because of this, I actually went grocery shopping with a plan and am cooking meals again!  It’s been a long time since I’ve cooked anything other than spaghetti or one of those frozen easy meals.

The first meal of the week was actually a recipe I’ve made several times and is always a hit with the husband.  Rachael Ray’s Barbecue Burgers.     My friend Liz gave me this recipe about 2 years ago, and then last year, she posted her review and the recipe over on her blog.    The recipe calls for ground chicken, but I typically use ground turkey.  Since we don’t have a grill (yet), I cook them under the broiler in our oven.   I tried it on the George Foreman once, which worked fine, but I prefer the oven method.   I think it is impossible to mess this recipe up.  It is just so easy, and they come out perfectly every time.  They are super moist and taste amazing.  So amazing that I don’t even need cheese or anything else on them- they are perfect all by themselves.

Here’s Liz’s version of the recipe:

Barbecue Burgers

4 Servings @ 5 Pts Each

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground chicken, turkey, or beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Montreal Seasoning
  • a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat broiler to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the ground meat in a bowl with the garlic, onion, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and Montreal seasoning. Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Combine ingredients to form 4 patties.
  3. Place on broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Broil for 10 minutes on each side.

Source : Rachael Ray’s “365: No Repeats”

More recipes to come!   I’m having my family over for dinner tomorrow night to start off the Memorial Day Weekend.   I am definitely ready for a long, relaxing weekend!  Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

* Disclaimer: Plan to Eat has never heard of me and definitely did not pay me to sign up for or review their website.  I just really like it a lot!

Counting and tracking

19 May

Have you ever just needed a break from counting points/calories, even if it’s just for one day?   I’m not talking about one of those days where you’ve done so poorly that you’ve just given up.  I mean a day when you’ve eaten just fine, are probably at or below the calorie goal anyhow, but just don’t have the energy or motivation to keep track.    That’s where I’m at today.

I’ve been following the Weight Watcher’s plan since 2003, and I’ve had enough ups and downs to know that I HAVE to write every single thing I eat down or I won’t lose weight.  When you’ve been doing something that long though, there are bound to be times when you just don’t give it your all.

Most likely, I’ll be back in the right mindset tomorrow, but it was nice to have a day off from tracking my food.  Even after 7 years, I still will never understand why some days following a weight loss plan can seem so easy and effortless, and the very next day it can seem so daunting.

So how do you keep track of your points/calories?   Do you use an online tracker, good old fashioned pen and paper, a smartphone, or some other method?       I switch back and forth between online and paper.  I found this cute printable food journal a while back, and I have been using it this week.   Most of the time writing it out helps me get back to basics when I’m struggling.

I’m a graduate!

3 May

Last night, I officially completed the Couch to 5K program!

I still can’t believe that I did it.   9 weeks ago, I could barely run 3 minutes, and now I can run for 30 minutes!   It wasn’t easy, and there were days that I wanted to give up, but I am so proud of myself for seeing it through to the end!

In the past 9 weeks, I have felt so much better about myself in general.   I might not have lost any weight (and since I didn’t take measurements, I don’t know where I stand there either) but I was definitely feeling pretty good.    During the final week, I strained my hamstring and had to take 5 days of rest.  It felt like 5 days of torture (I can’t believe I’m even saying that- the old me totally would have used it as an excuse to quit).   The longer I went without a run, the worse I felt about myself in general.  By day 5, I was back to my old ways of critiquing myself in the mirror and changing clothes ten times to hide all my “trouble spots”.  Then, miraculously, after just one really good run, I felt just fine about myself again.   I am starting to think that the runner’s high has a lot more to do with just how I feel immediately after the run!

As a reward for sticking with it, I got this :

For months now, I have been putting $1 into a jar for every 30 minute workout to save up for the Kindle.   I really needed motivation to exercise more consistently, and this plan seemed to work for me.  I knew it would take a long time to save up the money, but I wanted to earn it.   During the final week of C25K, my wonderful husband took it upon himself to complete my fund with a portion of his own “fun” money,  and the next thing I knew, I had a Kindle!  **Squee!**  I love, love, love it.  I pretty much haven’t stopped reading it since it showed up on my front porch!

So now that C25K is behind me, I’m definitely going to keep on running, but I feel like I can focus on other things again.  I didn’t want to overwhelm myself, so I wasn’t stressing myself out over food the last 9 weeks.  Now the next step is going to be to get my eating back on track and maybe actually lose these pesky 10 lbs I’ve been working on for 6 months now!

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