Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hot-and Spicy Chickpea Cakes with Pico de Gallo...and Guest Post

Hot-and Spicy Chickpea Cakes with Pico de Gallo from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

I am so honored to guest post for my dear friend Swathi, @Zesty South Indian Kitchen... who at this time, needs all the rest she can get. Glad to know she also has a few other blogger friends that will guest post for her, while she is recuperating. She needs a lot of "mommy and me" time at this very fragile first few months!

I am so thrilled to celebrate the birth of Swathi's little prince...Nikhil! A beautiful, and healthy baby boy! Such a perfect addition to the happy family, and a pride and joy to his big sister, Nidhi.
Swathi dear, I just want you to know, that I wish you and your precious baby all the best of health, and happiness. Congratulations to you, your hubby, and princess Nidhi!
May you, enjoy your new bundle of joy!

This dish is one of may favorite dishes to have for lunch, and for the Pico de Gallo, it's zero points so, healthy, spicy, colorful and delicious! I will be back to add more good news, but in the meantime...here's an easy way to cut the veggies perfect!

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday, @Miz Helen's Country Cottage

just click over to: Swathi's blog  to get the recipe!
Thank you Swathi, for giving me the opportunity to guest post for you, again!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Smoky Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder...

Still going strong with Weight Watchers and their amazing recipes from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. Also received another one from a friend, called Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook. I can hardly wait to check out some of the delicious recipes. I actually signed up for the meetings...only, because a lot has changed in the program in the last few years, and it's a different point system now. As far as the weight loss, I'm still at 7 lbs of my weight loss, but I do splurge at least once a week, where I don't even try to count the points because it would totally fall off the points track. As you can see, that really does make a difference when you are trying to lose weight!
If you like clams, then you will most likely love Manhattan Clam Chowder. So light, rich, yet oh, so satisfying, and it's actually a Weight Watchers recipe, that I barely altered. The only difference was, that I added a dry chipotle pepper, that I soaked in boiling water, to give it the smoky taste, instead of using fire roasted diced tomatoes. Chipotle has more of a smoky flavor than fired roasted tomatoes would. I must confess, that I'm totally enjoying this new program, and are looking forward to each day with so much enthusiasm to plan a different meal every day, knowing that it's so flavorful, and healthy with lots of fresh vegetables that can be made so many ways. Just look at the robust color, texture and flavor of this gorgeous Manhattan Clam Chowder. I'm so happy to share the recipe with you.

Linking to: Cookbook Sundays @couscous-consciousness

Smoky Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder
adapted from: Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook

2 teaspoons olive oil
(I used 1 Tbsp.)
1 onion chopped
1 large garlic clove minced
1 (1/2 pound) all-purpose potato, peeled, and  cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used 2 large potatoes)
1 small zucchini diced (I omitted it)
1 carrot diced (I added 3)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes)
(I added 2 cans of diced regular tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
(1 chipotle pepper)
2 (8 ounce bottles)clam juice
( I used one bottle)
1/2 cup of water
(I used 2 cups of water with 1 Tbsp vegetable base, boiled in the microwave)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I used 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
1 (6 ounce can chopped clams (I used 2 cans of chopped clams)

Soak the dried chipotle pepper, after you have boiled it. Let it soak until soft. Cut in half, and clean the seeds out, and cut pepper into small pieces to add to the chowder.
It's optional, you don't have to use it, if you are using fire roasted diced tomatoes.

Heat the oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook stirring until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and zucchini (if you're using it) and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the oregano, pepper, and stir through.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, the clam juice, the water, the bay leaf, the chipotle pepper, diced, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer partially cover, for about 25 minutes.

Add the clams with their juice, and cook, just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Do not boil, or the clams will toughen.
8 servings
PointsPlus value:4

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm back on track with my Weight Watchers recipes...and yes, this light and simple Chocolate Bundt Cake is from my Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. Surprised?...you shouldn't be. It's only 4 points per serving, unlike the the little Pogácsa (biscuits) which I made, had at least 2 points per serving...and you just can't stop at eating one piece.We're on a new track now...still lost 1 additional lb. when I thought I gained some of the weight back...exercise does help!

On a lighter note...as in weight wise, and otherwise, I am staying on the Weight Watchers program and will be featuring mostly, my Weight Watchers' recipes, even for my Guest Post, which I am so excited about! For my Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe,  click over...check it out!

Linking to: http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/ 

Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake
from: Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook
2011 edition

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 10 inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
Combine cocoa and chopped chocolate in small bowl. Pour boiling water over cocoa mixture, stirring
until chocolate is melted.
Whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, egg white, and vanilla in large bowl; stir in cocoa mixture. Add flour,
mixture, stirring just until no longer visible. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire
rack 10 minutes. Invert and remove pan. Let cool completely. Serves 24 slices
Points Plus value: 4

note: You can substitute low-fat buttermilk, by making your own.
To a 1 cup glass measuring cup, add 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar, and fill to 1 cup, low-fat milk.
Do not stir, just leave for a few minutes and it will get thick, just like buttermilk...only cheaper, and just as good!

Gong Xi Fa Cai...Happy Chinese New Year...The year of the Dragon!

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Töpörtyüs Pogácsa-Hungarian (crackling) Biscuits

This is a difficult emotional task for me...I have actually made my Hungarian tepertős...or töpörtyüs pogácsa...a savory bacon bits biscuits...strictly Hungarian style, that is from my childhood!...one caution! Do not attempt to make this, unless you want a real challenge, or it's a childhood memory recall!...It's a huge challenge, and takes about 4 to 5 hours of folding, resting, rolling out the dough at least 3 times. I did have a Weight Watchers recipe for you (will have to post it next time)...made a delicious Manhattan Clam Chowder, which was in the cookbook.

I actually made a batch and scored the top...but when I baked it it had a "mind of its own" but all is well, they are incredibly delicious! 

As you can see...these biscuits turned out so flaky, savory, and delicious. A lot of work, but they were worth every minute of it!

Hungarian Pogacsa with pork cracklings ...Töpörtyus Pogácsa
adapted from: three different sources

4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp dry instant yeast
2 cups finely chopped töpörtyü,
 or crispy bacon
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1-2 cup white wine
1 1/4 cups  Greek style yogurt
(I used Chobani)
1 egg
2 whole eggs beaten, for brushing

Make the the töpörtyü first. You will need 2 lbs for this recipe.(Click on the link) You can refrigerate them for a few days, and when you are ready to use them, chop them fine. Better yet, chop them in the food processor
 (which I will do next time)

In a large bowl, add the 4 1/2 cup flour. Add 1/2 cup of warm water in a cup and add the 2Tbsp dry yeast to desolve and bubble up as in photo.

Cut the butter in small pieces and add it to the flour, along with the salt, and mix with a pastry blender

Add the yeast and mix it into the flour, with a wooden spoon.

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the egg, and the 1/2 cup white wine, and add that as well to the flour mixture.

Now, here comes the fun part...you get to mix all these ingredients with your hands until they combine, and work it well together

On a floured board, or clean counter, knead the dough several times until nice and elastic and not sticking to the board.

Place in an oiled bowl, turn over, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, an place a clean towel on it. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes rest, roll out the dough as thin as possible, and scatter half the cracklings on it.

Now, fold over carefully envelope style, from the left, the right, and from each end to enclose.

It should look like a square, all 4 sides enclosed.

Cover with a clean dishtowel, and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out again, into a 12 x 9 inches form, from and follow the same procedure, by sprinkling the second half of the cracklings on it, and fold up again, and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

(Aren't you tired yet, from just following these procedures?) Well, like I said, you need about 4 to 5 hrs. work on this, but so well worth it.

Score the dough with a sharp knife but careful not to cut through the dough. (this is where I messed up, scoring it too deep) Brush half the amount of the egg wash on it.

Cut out rounds, with a small biscuit cutter. (As you can see I messed up my nice pattern when I brushed it with the egg wash, so the scoring is not uniform) If I recall, my mother used to brush the biscuits with the egg wash, carefully, and separately. Will have to improve on the the next time.

You can re-roll the scrap dough and start again, cutting them out. The second time, I did not score the tops.

Place the pogácsa (biscuits) on a parchment lined baking sheet, let them rest uncovered for 20 minutes...bake in a preheated 425 degrees F oven for about 15-18 minutes, until it gets nice and golden brown on the top.

I'm really not happy the way the scored top turned out, but they are all light, crispy on the top, and bottom, and oh, so delicious. Eat them as snacks, of with a nice bowl of soup, or as a bread substitute with any meal. Well worth all the effort and work you put into it!
I ended up with about 4 dozen of these small treasures. Serve them while they are warm, or at room temperature.

Note:If you have leftovers, freeze them in a plastic container, and re-heat them in a 325 degrees F. oven for a few minutes, and they will be just as fresh as they were on the day you baked them...maybe even better!
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chick Pea Curry...and (not so) Weight Watchers Goodies

Week 2 of my Weight Watchers program, online...I lost 5 lbs. so far. But I must tell you, planning, is the "key" to this successful way of staying on track! It's not easy, when you think about various other foods to eat...easier to make, but hard when you have to say "no" or maybe just limit it to a bite?...or a small portion! Easier said, than done, but I did it, and I'm still doing it!
Last week, I was making mostly chicken dishes, with fresh and healthy vegetables, and this week I'm concentrating on legumes...all kinds of beans, and rice, and grain dishes. The only "sidetrack" is, that in the meantime, I'm also thinking about making cakes, and other snacks...which not necessarily from the Weight Watchers cookbook! As for instance...neither is the Chickpea Curry, but I'm sure, if I would google this recipe for WW, I could find similar recipe for this delicious dish!

Chickpea Curry
by; All Recipes.com

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, finely chopped
6 whole cloves (I used 1 teaspoon ground cloves)
2 (2inch) sticks cinnamon, crushed (I used 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and fry onions until tender. Stir in garlic, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt cayenne, and turmeric. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Mix in garbanzo beans, and the liquid. Continue to cook and stir until all ingredients are well blended and heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro just before serving, reserving  reserving some, for garnish.
Note: I added 1 Tbsp. hot homemade pepper sauce for more spice, and flavor. Also served it over Jasmine rice
6- 8 servings; Points value: 7

Just because you decide to start the new year, in a more positive way, than all the previous years before, does not mean you cannot enjoy the "simple things in life" like buying yourself a special bouquet of flowers. In my case, I just happen to love fresh Baby's Breath...they are so pretty, delicate, and have such subtle fresh fragrance.

They only cost $4.00 for this gorgeous bouquet, which I trimmed back and placed in water, with ice cubes, and a Tbsp. of white vinegar to keep fresher, longer.

The beautiful hand painted dainty little vase is a "thrift find" for $.99 (cents) ...in fact, all the picture frames with my loved ones are all thrift finds, all of them, less than $5.00 and I just love brown wood frames, and these frames are all so unique, and elegant. So, there you have it, a little secret of simple happiness I wanted to share with you....and the wall paint color in my living room, is called Zen Green...a little bit of Zen goes a long way:D

You may be wondering what is this concoction, that's frying in the pan? Well, it's an old childhood favorite of mine which will be used to make the most amazing Hungarian "pogácsa" with cracklings...called "töpörtyü"...in English it would be biscuits...or scones? Not exactly sure which is the proper way to call it in English, but it's called Töpörtyüs Pogácsa!
Click on this link, and check it out. It is the most amazing pogácsa, so flaky savory, tasty, light, and delicious with the chopped little pork cracklings worked right into the dough!
Made by; none other, than a talented Hungarian/Canadian food blogger whom I happen to find quite accidentally...long story!
So here's the famous Pogácsa, made by Zsuzsa, @Zsuzsa in the kitchen

Zsuzsa explains how to purchase, and use the crackling, but does not have photos of it! Well, I went on an adventure hunt to my favorite Italian meat market...Mario's in Delray Beach (a little bit of drive, but well worth it)
Mike, was so kind and gracious to cut fresh pork fat for me...took him a little while, I should have pre-ordered it. Purchased about 2 lbs, which I diced and fried in vegetable oil to a crisp! It smelled so wonderful, as I was frying it...so, so fresh, you can smell the freshness of the aroma!

When they're fried up all crispy, and golden...remove them with a slotted spoon, and layer them on double layer paper towel, sprinkle with fine Kosher salt, and they are ready to be chopped for the Pogácsa, or just enjoy them with caution! ...I enjoyed a few pieces with a slice of fresh bakery rye bread with caraway seeds, and fresh Hungarian hot paprika...Oh, man!...Oh God!...If you love bacon...this is the Ultimate "bacon lover's dream"...I kid you not!...Just watch your cholesterol...pure fat, with just a hint of meat on it...but crispy, crunchy, and light as a "feather"...not WeightWatchers' delight...not by a long shot!

Any way, I'm going to the gym this evening...and will work out an extra 30 minutes on the cardio machines!
I'm not trying to steer you wrong...but you gotta have some kind of "guilty food pleasure"...and this is as guilty as it gets!
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Black Beans and Rice...and Cuban Picadillo

Being on WeightWatchers is so much fun, and versatile with all the interesting and delicious foods you can prepare, right out of the cookbook, or get recipes online. Not only that, but you can create your own menus, as long as they are not too fatty, or too much carbs. I love beans, any kind...especially black beans. Here is South Florida we have a huge population of Cuban/Americans that have brought their culture, and cuisine with them to carry on and you can find a Cuban restaurant, or market all around town, here in West Palm Beach, but mostly in Miami!
It's so easy to make Black Beans and Rice, very satisfying with the addition of the Picadillo, which is stirred into the ready made Black Beans and Rice, and if you want to keep it vegetarian...just omit the Picadillo. I will include the basic ingredients for the Picadillo, which is a Cuban hearty ground beef dish, that can be also served with rice, just by itself...combining it with the black beans is really, so hearty and delicious with a simple salad on the side!

Black Beans and Rice
by; Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

4 teaspoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper seeded and chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
5-6 garlic, minced
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
and drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock, or broth
4 teaspoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
4 cups cooked white rice

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, stock, sherry, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, pepper sauce, and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, add hot water to thin to desired consistency. Stir in the cilantro, and season with the salt and pepper; discard the bay leaf. Serve over the rice. Makes 4 servings.
Points Value: 9

Note: with the addition of the picadillo, another 3, or 4 points are added. What I did, was have my usual coffee at breakfast, and ate an entire grapefruit (0 points)...NO OATMEAL...I saved my 4 points to have the Picadillo

For the Picadillo:
Saute 1 medium onion, 4 cloves chopped garlic, in small amt. of olive oil. Add 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 3/4 cup beef broth, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, few dashes of red hot sauce, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in 8 to 10 pimento stuffed green olive (you can cut them in half) and chopped cilantro. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. You can serve them over rice, or add, and stir in with the Black Beans and Rice.

Linking to: Cookbook Sundays @ Couscous & Consciousness

On a lighter, and brighter note: Thank you all, for your caring, and kind comments regarding my kitty, Prince, who is just about 19 years old now...Last week, I almost had to put him down, at the urging of my vet, Dr. Eric. Since Prince's eyesight came back, after mysteriously losing it for several hours (still a mystery) his pupils totally covered his beautiful green eyes, which disappeared into 2 total black eyes...lasted for hours, me...comforting him, the next morning, after a total sleepless night, it came back, but then...so, since last week, he is eating well, and is his "old" sweet, and calm self...just taking one-day at a time. Dr. Eric is out of town for 5 days, and I will have to take him to his colleague vet, if an emergency should happen...otherwise, we are just fine! Thank God!

Last, but not least...I do want to pass this beautiful award that I received from my dear friend, Amelia to 6 wonderful food blogger friends...hopefully, they will pay this forward to at least 8 to 10 deserving food bloggers. The only reason I'm passing this on to 6 food bloggers, is...because since the last year, or two...I have received just about every award out there on the Internet, and faithfully passed it on...to only have about a handful of bloggers to even acknowledge that they received it...never mind, passing it on! So now, I am passing it on to 6 food bloggers from 3 different countries, including the United States...they are all well deserving participants, and my dear followers/friends!

All you have to do, is to copy, and paste...mention who it came from, and pass it on to at least, 6 to 10 bloggers of  your choice, who you think are deserving of this. Thank you Amelia, and thanks to all of you, dear friends...you all deserve an award, so please consider yourself being awarded...take the award, and pass it on!
Hugs, to all!

Gizi- @ Gizi Receptjei- from Hungary
Wanna @ Relaxotour-from Hungary
Csilla @ Csilla Konyhája -from Hungary

Jo @ChicGeorgious- from Malaysia
Ping@ Ping's Pickings- from Malaysia

Beth @Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves-from the United States
Lyndsey @ Tiny Skillet-from the United States

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