Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian-Vegan Black Bean Chili

As I mentioned to you in the near past, that we have vegetarian, and vegan meals at least 3, 4 times a week, seafood once a week, and the weekend is pretty "iffy"...never knowing what we're going to eat. That's where I get in trouble with my WW points system, even though I'm allowed extra points, every weekend I gain back at least 2 or 3 pounds; then, start again on Monday, and it takes an entire week to lose those extra pounds, and struggling to lose another pound or two. So, this is the "lifestyle". As long as I'm on track and know what's taking place, I'm more conscious of it!
This dish is the ultimate vegetarian...vegan, if you don't top the chili with the Lebni (kefir/yogurt)...but I must confess that Lebni is so creamy, tangy, thick, and the perfect topping to tame the hot and spicy flavor of this gorgeous chili topped baked sweet potato! I don't claim to be a recipe developer, or a food stylist, but then, I am a professionally trained chef, for decades now... which I never talk about, but I do mention it on the bottom of my  "about me" section. I guarantee, that you haven't seen a chili assembled like this, but there are plenty of sweet potato chili recipes out there. This way, you have the best of both...baked sweet potato, cooked black beans, and separately cooked spicy vegetables, all assembled...with LOVE!
I totally went off the original subject that I want to post about...oh yes! The Red Gold Tomato Giveaway winner!
As you can see these beautiful spicy vegetables that are still simmering, and steaming (you could actually see the steam)...they are made with the Red Gold Tomato Diced Tomato Chili Ready tomatoes.

Here's the tricky part. I did calculate the winner on my handy little Random.Org widget, and wouldn't you know who came up as #14 winner? Wendy @ The Weekend Gourmet. She specifically asked me not to include her, since she also hosted a giveaway last year, and this year, she had the opportunity to visit the Red Gold Tomato plant in person...you can read about her fabulous trip on her blog!

Next, the generator picked my Hungarian food blogger friend, Erzsi @ Troll a Konnyhamban...so sorry, but only U.S. and Canada are eligible....that was # 7...so now, I didn't want to spin the numbers again, that's how I went to the next number, which is # 8...Claudia @ What's Cookin' Italian Style!

Congratulations, Claudia...I will get in touch with you by e-mail...to get your address, so I can send it to Red Gold, and they will ship your giveaway package to you, directly!

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
                Thursday Favorite Things @ Katherines Corner

Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian-Vegan Black Bean Chili
my own recipe

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-14 1/2 to 16 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
(I used Red Gold diced tomatoes, Chili Ready)
1 15- to 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed, and drained
( I made a large pot of black dried beans, the day before, and used 2 cups of it, rinsed and drained)
3 small yellow crookneck squash diced 
1 Tablespoon minced seeded if you like, jalapeno chili
4 lime wedges

Plain nonfat, Lebni, our sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork, and wrap them separately in foil paper. Place sweet potatoes in baking dish and bake until tender, about 1 hr. 15 minutes.

Note: the day before, make a large batch of dried black beans, and refrigerate in large plastic container, to make at least 3 different meals out of it, or just season it to make a side dish chili, or black bean soup. This is optional, you can use a good quality canned beans for this recipe, as well!

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add diced bell pepper and shopped onions and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir mixture 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and ground cumin, then the diced yellow squash. tomatoes.Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes, adding about 1/4 cup of water if it's needed.
Add diced tomatoes with their juices, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes...not longer, to keep the diced pieces whole.

Heat the black beans separately in a small saucepan. You can add an extra can of beans, or the fresh cooked beans to make sure you have enough. Important: in order to spice up the beans, take a small portion from the spicy veggies, and stir them into the beans.

Arrange 1 sweet potato on each of 4 plates. Split potatoes open; mash slightly. Spoon some black beans in center of each. top with the spicy vegetables, and squeeze lime juice over.

Top with Lebni, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (optional)

This is an amazing healthy, colorful, and filling dish.
I figured out the WW points value, which is 7 points.
Even if you're not a vegetarian, you will love this!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Chick- Peas in Chunky Tomato Sauce...and Red Gold Giveaway

I'm truly happy to announce to you, that I have the most amazing 100 % all natural tomatoes to have had the privilege of trying, almost exactly one year ago, when I won the beautiful giveaway pack, from my friend Wendy, @ Weekend Gourmet.

I did not even know that our local Publix Supermarket in West Palm Beach carries the Red Gold tomatoes, when I suddenly discovered it, yesterday! More importantly, I got my "six pack" ...no, I don't mean a six pack "abs"...not even nearly, or my six pack of "beer"...although beer would go nice with my Chick- Peas in Chunky Tomato Sauce, made with the Red Gold Tomatoes, that I received the "six pack" of different 6 type of their wonderful tomatoes.
I must tell you, that this is a truly Vegan dish, made with dried chickpeas (garbanzo) that have been soaked, and slowly cooked till it became just the right crunchiness on the outside, and al-dente on the inside, and the tomato stew, slowly cooked with Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes, and combined with Red Gold Stewed Tomatoes, that looked and smelled absolutely fresh, ruby red, and "heavenly"! Served over Israeli Couscous, an you've got yourself a satisfying Vegan/Vegetarian dish, or a side dish with any type of meat, if you prefer it that way! The best part...I get to share these "six pack" of tomatoes with the winner of this giveaway!

 I think it's always helpful to learn about the nice people, behind their products, so I wanted to share this with you...read on!
about red gold
We are tomato people…people who grew up where tomatoes grow best - Tomato Country.
Red Gold began as a family business in 1942. Sixty-some years and three generations later, we still concentrate on growing tomatoes and using them to make over a hundred different products. Day in and day out, we pursue our mission, “To produce the freshest, best-tasting tomato products in the world.”
We harvest our well-tended fields at the moment when tomatoes are at their ripest, and carefully treat those tomatoes with the respect they deserve until they're tightly sealed and on their way to you.
You might be surprised how passionate we can be about tomatoes.
Learn more about Red Gold and our people

Now you can understand a little better...so let's get on with the recipe, and the giveaway. All you need to do is to follow my blog...if you haven't already...no facebook, foodbuzz, twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin, required to follow, since I'm the worst active blogger in all those. Can't even remember when I tweeted about something, but I will for sure tweet about RED GOLD Tomatoes!...and indeed, it's worth its weight in GOLD. Couldn't have come up with a better name for these amazing 100% natural tomatoes; and by now, all of you who know me from comments, know that I am sincere about my feeling of things, and this is one of them!
Cristy, at Red Gold contacted me by e-mail if I would like to participate in this giveaway, and you couldn't get me fast enough to say YES!

Please leave a comment, and mention what you would like to prepare with Red Gold Tomatoes...I will post all the six types that I received, and certainly there are a lot more products...this are just six, of the many!

Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes

Red Gold Diced Tomatoes Chili Ready

Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes, with Green Chilies

Red Gold Tomato Sauce

My favorites:
Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes

Red Gold Stewed Tomatoes

You've got till Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 @ 11:00PM Eastern Standard Time to enter, and I will announce the winner on Tuesday... just make sure you are following my blog...I will be sure to follow you back as well on your blog.
I will use Random generated number for the winner! Sorry, only U.S. and Canada are eligible for the giveaway!

Chick-Peas in Chunky Tomato Sauce
my own adaptation from an old Bon Appetit magazine recipe, circa (early 90's)

1 medium chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1- 14.5 oz. can of Red Gold Crushed tomatoes
1- 14.5 oz. can of Red Gold Stewed tomatoes
2 15-to 16 oz can chick-peas (garbanzo beans)
rinsed. ( I cooked my own garbanzo beans) and used 4 cups...also saved the liquid to cook the Israeli Couscous)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley ( I used 1 teaspoon freeze dried parsley)
Save some parsley leaves for garnish ( I used fresh cilantro)

Homemade dried oregano on the left side... from Italy! The BEST!

Combine chopped onion, minced garlic and olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. (I used a large pot)
Cover and cook mixture over low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices, chick-peas, and all the above mentioned spices, and bring to a boil.

Stir mixture, crushing tomatoes with side of spoon. (I left my beautiful sliced stewed tomatoes as they are, to cook till tender)
Add fresh parsley. Season to taste with salt, and pepper.

Spoon Couscous into shallow bowl, and ladle tomato mixture over it!
WW Points value: 10

This is what my freezer door shelf looks like. I freeze my best dry spices, to assure the fresh flavor. Just making sure that I don't let them expire. Either way, they should not be kept for more than one year.

Aren't they beauties?...you can also order them online from the company, if you cannot find them in your local supermarket, or specialty markets.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paula Deen's Banana Nut Bread...and Awards

If you're feeling sluggish in the mid-afternoon, here's a very nice "pick me up" ...a slice of Banana Nut Bread, and a cold glass of organic low-fat milk. Of course, you can substitute it for a nice steaming cup of tea, or coffee...the choice is yours!
You"re probably wondering why I chose Paula Deen...the "queen of fatty foods" ...
Is it because it's FAT TUESDAY?...would that be appropriate for someone who is still on the Weight Watchers program?...or just recently finding out that she has type 2 diabetes, that she had for three years already, and we just found out!

It's really true, that we don't have to cook like that, with all the butter and fat, she is not encouraging us to cook that way, but it certainly is very tempting to try those recipes. I have found an easier method...just cut down on the fat, and make it a lighter version!
I found a super great thrift find, recently, at Goodwill. Paula Deen's first cookbook, before she became a famous food network star. It was copyrighted in 1997. The price, as you can see it was $1.29 soft cover book, filled with her early famous recipes. She owned a small restaurant at the time, in Savannah Georgia, with her two sons working there. Very cozy, simple, and down-home good Southern foods. I was really impressed with the Banana Bread recipe, and would like to share it with you. As far as for points value...it has to be at least 3 points pr slice...compared to 2 points with the WW Banana Bread, which I will also make soon. I lightened it up a bit, but I must admit, this was an incredible Banana Bread, enjoyed by all!

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday, @Miz Helen's Country Cottage
                Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop, @Katherines Corner
                Food Photography @Crisp Photoworks

Banana Nut Bread
The Lady and Sons, by Paula Deen

1/2 cup Crisco shortening
(I used 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs beaten
3 ripe bananas mashed
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream shortening and sugar. (whisk oil, and sugar, if you're using oil.) Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and add to creamed mixture.

Add remaining ingredients; mix well.

Pour into a well greased pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
( I baked mine for 30 minutes on 350 degrees, and lowered the temperature to 325, for an additional 25 minutes.)

This is such a cute award...besides the fact that it's called CUTE AWARD! I received this from my friend Csilla, in Hungary, @Csilla Konyhája . She recently made a fantastic cheese danish...a childhood favorite of mine, which I will attempt to make soon.

These two lovely awards, I received from my friend Ping, in Malaysia, @ ping's pickings. Check out her latest refreshing carrot, and ginger cocktail...so pretty, and refreshing...a good way to have your daily carrots...lol

"A word of Love can make a world of difference".
These beautiful bouquet of roses, I chose to take as an award, instead of the awards that was returned to me, by my friend Amelia, from Malaysia @ Amelia's De-sserts. Check out her latest cute, and funny "chick creation" and her yummy coconut topped light dessert.
The Liebster award, I cannot accept since it is for bloggers with less than 200 followers. With the 2 lists of followers I have twice as the 200, so I decided that I would accept these beautiful roses as the award!

Thank you Csilla, thank you Ping, and ...thank you Amelia, for the lovely awards. I am really and truly honored...I will make the best effort to pay these forward, and link them!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Rajma...and WW Corn Bread

Just recently, I was browsing through some food blogs of friends that I haven't visited for a while, and my eyes
got caught on a simple spicy bean dish...an Indian spicy vegetarian chili that inspired me so much...
knowing that I had all the spices, and it's a Weight Watchers approved dish, as well, plus the fact that I truly love, spicy foods!
When something really inspires me that someone makes, I usually leave a comment saying that "I would love to try this"..."I'm going to make this"..."I'm bookmarking it to print and copy the recipe"...how many of us say these over and over again?...only to just put it aside and forget about it! Nancy, and her husband Veejay are the authors of the Kitchen Gypsies, and I mentioned to my friend Nancy, that I would like to make this dish, and I actually did, in my slow cooker...a huge pot of it! So thanks for the inspiration, Nancy!

 Do visit their blog for the recipe, and browse through for some amazing authentic Indian, and American cuisine, that they have to offer.
Points per serving with rice: 10

Linking to: Cookbook Sundays @ Couscous-Consciosness

When I get inspired about a recipe...especially if I have the ingredients on hand, I could hardly wait to "jump" on it to make it, especially when it doesn't require an electric mixer, or a long time for preparation, and baking time. I can honestly say that this Weight Watchers Corn Bread recipe is the BEST by far, and guilt free light, super moist, and delicious of any corn bread or corn muffins I have made. It's pure, and simple...no butter, no fat, or oil added, just pure buttermilk!
Just look at the beautiful color, texture, and natural thickness of these healthy and delicious red kidney beans, soaked, and then cooked for several hours in the slow cooker! I served them over Thai Jasmin rice...amazing, spicy, and totally comforting and satisfying!

You can see the lines on the slow-cooker crock pot where it started to cook, cooking down and getting thicker.

The next day, I served it with my cornbread, which is a Weight Watchers recipe, that I will share with you.
I topped the Rajma with a generous spoonful of Lebni, which is a thick Middle Eastern Kefir, that can only be purchased in a Middle Eastern market, which we have here, locally, in West Palm Beach.

Recipe for the WW Cornbread...click on!

Corn Bread
from Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2/12 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray an 8" square pan or a 11-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

(Quaker Yellow Corn Meal is by far, the best to use, and Pam Original cooking spray.)

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, beat the buttermilk and egg. Pour over the flour mixture; stir, just until blended (do not overmix).

Transfer to the pan. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center come out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack 10 minutes; serve warm.
Makes 12 servings
Points per serving: 2

Just a little update...maybe, not so short; to share with you on my weight loss project. Since I mentioned to you, that I gained back 2 lbs of my 9 lb weight loss, since Super Bowl weekend.To make matters worse, I skipped a WW meeting following that week...knowing I had gained weight back. Well, I did get the courage to go get weighed in, this week, all bundled up in sweat suit, jacket, and heavy sneakers (going to the gym afterwards) I told the lady, I am not removing my jacket, or my sneakers, I know I gained 2 lbs, plus, all these heavy clothes, and shoes, and late afternoon...already had lunch, another 2 lbs will be packed on. Sure enough she marked 4lbs extra weight!

I am not going to the meetings any more for a while, did have to pay $42.per month, to get back online to be able to get the E-tools. When they say it's FREE online...sure, it's free, just to sign up, but then you have to pay for what the call the PASS to get you started, to be able to track your own weight, and follow with the program, at your leisure time. Now, this way I could go to the meetings (just to get weighed in)...and not have to sit through the meeting, and just come back home to get online, and follow through! Also, this way it still comes out cheaper, than the $15. you have to pay to go in person to the meetings, once a week!

OK...last, but not least. I have been carefully watching, and counting my points this week; I decided to get on the scale...wouldn't you know, I made my goal of the 10lbs loss...actually lost probably about 11, or 12 lbs. since Jan. 2nd. of this year...slow, but sure! Whewww! ...a huge guilt is lifted from my conscience, and also the weight. It's been 6 weeks of trying...failing, and determined, but I did it, and will continue!
Thanks for all your support, and caring, and I am determined to continue because I do want to be healthier and live longer to see my little grandchildren grow up, and be there for my family!

Hugs... and have a wonderful and Blessed weekend, my friends:DDD

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Strawberry Whipped Sensation...for your Valentine!

I can't help but keep thinking about the famous quotation..."A rose is a rose, is a rose"...some of you might have heard that famous quotation, by Gertrude Stein, part of a poem in 1913. Actually there is a meaning to the quote.
"Things are the way they are!"...yes, that is so true. The sooner we realize and understand how things are, we will understand what they are!
What I like to do is to see a recipe, especially one with a photo, and do my own spin on the final result. I can tell if the recipe will actually work out or not, and in this case, I totally did a different shape, form, but kept the ingredients... just added more strawberries, and crushed Oreo cookies to the crust! Even though I didn't make this cake for a "romantic significant other"...I did have plenty of raves from my wonderful family. How could you possibly resist the fresh strawberry mousse filling over the most favorite cookie crust, topped with America's all-time favorite Cool Whip topping, and surrounded by Dove heart shaped chocolate pieces!

A rose can say I love you and want you to be mine,
A rose can say I thank you for being so very kind,
A rose can say congratulations, whatever the occasion may be,
A rose can say I miss you and wish you were here with me,
A rose can say I'm sorry if I've hurt you in any way,
A rose can say get well soon, May God bless you today,
A rose can say I wish you happiness, and the best for you each day

A rose can say farewell when someone goes away,
A rose can say hello, I'm thinking of you today,
There's just so many wonderful things that a rose can say,
A r
ose can say goodbye when a love one is laid to rest,

No matter what there is to say, a rose can say it best. 

~Margie Drive

Linking to:#chocolatelove blog hop, @ Mis Pensamientos

                   Be my Valentine Challenge @Very Good Recipes

Strawberry Whipped Sensation
adapted from: Family Circle magazine, March 2003

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tub 8 oz. Cool Whip Whipped Topping thawed, divided
8 Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. butter melted

Line 8x4 inch loaf pan with foil. Mash 2 cups of strawberries in large bowl. Stir in condensed milk, juice and 2 cups of the Cool Whip; pour into pan.
Top with combined chopped cookies and butter; press into mixture. Cover.
Freeze at least 6 hours.To serve, invert onto plate. Remove foil. Frost with remaining Cool Whip. Top with remaining strawberries, Makes 12 servings.

My version of making this cake: I used 16 cookies, and 2 Tbsp. of melted butter, put them in the food processor, and pressed the crushed cookies into a heart shaped springform pan. I filled it with the filling, and topped it with Cool Whip.

I carefully folded my crushed up strawberries into the sweetened condensed milk
Now fold in half of the Cool Whip whipped topping.
Now, cover with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 6 hrs.

Gabby wanted to decorate the cake...instead of using sliced strawberries, she used the most amazing Dove chocolate heart shapes, and just one strawberry on the top. Extra box of strawberries came in handy, to add some halved strawberries on the side, to enjoy!

Beautiful slice of heavenly Whipped Sensation!

This is dessert devoured...before dinner:D

Your MOMENT...YOUR DOVE...saved for last...yumm!

...with Love, to all my friends!
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