Monthly Archives: March 2017

THIN CRUST DEEP DISH PIZZA CASSEROLE

It’s fair to say that I love pizza. I think most people do. It has to have great flavor and the crust is a big factor. While all that is great, this well loved food can wreak havoc on the waistline and is not always as satisfying once your three to four slices in.

This pizza casserole is a big favorite of mine. It’s filling has the right amount of calories, and big taste. You can change it up and use things like pineapple and ham,  cooked center cut bacon,or a different variety of vegetables, or cheeses.  If you follow points, take into account those changes and values.

Make it yours! Send me some pics of your creations. I would love to see them.

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THIN CRUST DEEP DISH PIZZA CASSEROLE

6 servings  (5 Smart Points per serving)

Ingredients:

• 1 can Pillsbury, thin crust pizza dough

• Cooking spray

• 1 Jenny O, lean sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 (15oz) can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

• 1 Tbsp tomato paste

• 1 medium onion,, thinly sliced

• ½ bell pepper, thinly sliced (any color you like)

• 1 C sliced baby Bella mushrooms

• 2 C fresh baby spinach

• 6 oz part skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded

• Dried Italian herbs, fresh basil, or other fresh herbs of choice

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees

2. Gather, and measure all the ingredients

3. Spray a 13×9 casserole with cooking spray

4. Open and unroll the pizza crust and press into the bottom and midway up the sides of the baking dish. Set aside.

5. Prep all the vegies and set aside. (use veg that you like in any combination)

6. Cook the sausage and the garlic in the same skillet over medium high heat until it is browned, crumbling it as it cooks. (If using ham or other pre-cooked meats just go to step 7 and add the minced garlic)

7.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated.

8. Pour the sausage, tomato, and garlic mixture over the crust.

9. Then evenly distribute the vegetables over the top. (If using pre-cooked meat add here)

10. Bake uncovered for about 12 minutes.

11. Top with the cheese and sprinkle some Italian herbs over it. Continue to bake another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. If using fresh basil or other fresh herbs, put them on after removing from the oven.

12. Cool 5 minutes, cut into 6 portions. Serve with a spatula.

NOTE: If you prefer your vegetables more on the soft side, you can saute them in a tsp of olive oil. I will warn you that the onions and mushrooms will produce a lot of water which may make your crust a bit soggy.  You can also steam them in a small amount of chicken broth but don’t overcook them. This will not change the points value.

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OMG…….SPIN CLASS

Well, I said I wanted to get more excercise. I have had a gym membership for years. I used it for about 6 months, been paying for it ever since, in more ways than one I might add!

I mentioned to my oldest, who is very active, that I needed to get back to the gym. No problem Ma, I will sign you up for a spin class. So I went, not exactly sure what to expect. I mean, after all, what can you do on a bike?  Let me tell you…….a lot can be done while cycling. I have one piece of advice, GEL COVER!!!!! If you never listen to another thing I say, take heed to this one.

Picture this…..A dark room, an instructor with a headset microphone on, 6 people on stationary bikes, and on comes the music to set the pace and tone. So far, so good, I’ve got this. So we cycle to get warmed up and then it begins.  Sprints, jogging, increased pedal tension, reduced pedal tension, sweat pouring, leg aching, great music, thought I was going to die. Then, “pick up your hand weights”. What????!!!!!! I thought she was kidding….NOPE! Weight lifts while cylcling, dear Lord. She took pitty on me and saw that my lady parts were in pain and gave me her seat cover. As she said “a little piece of heaven”. 

I must say I am a bit tender today, but not as bad as I thought I would be. I have already gone on Amazon.com and researched seat covers. So, yes, I am going back. I slept like a champ and I actually felt energized afterwards. I initially thought about cancelling because I had worked all day and was exhausted. So glad I went!

They tell me it takes 3 classes to adjust and feel better or “numb”, haha! If you’ve ever considered trying it, please do. Borrow or buy a gel cover. It might make your initial perspective a bit more positive. I will keep you posted!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI (quick & easy)

In an earlier post I gave you a recipe for CROCK POT CHICKEN FOR THE WEEK. 3 lbs at a time, frozen or thawed, and so many ways to use it. This is a favorite stand by for me and is very filling. Of course, you can always use leftover chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local market.

I try to find things that are quick but still tasty and healthy after working a long day. This is one of those recipes. I also manage to get leftovers for lunch the next day.

If your a Weight Watcher this one is 7 points a serving (based on the Weight Watchers Calculator.) It’s low in fat, and high in fiber and protein. It’s very good with cornbread muffins. or a side salad, or both. It is also excellent with your favorite grated cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. Just remember they add extra calories. But if you can afford them, go for it and enjoy!

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (4 oz) can of chopped green chiles, undrained
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans of Great Northern Beans, undrained
  • 14.5 oz. of chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 C chicken broth, cooked and chopped into cubes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce served on the side (your favorite brand)
  1. Heat a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.
  2. Cook the onion in the oil until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the chiles, flour, and cumin. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for about 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the chicken to the pan and cook an additional 10 minutes or until hot.
  6. Serve immediately.

I like Franks Hot Sauce added to mine. It’s up to you!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

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HARD BOILED EGGS

Hard to believe Easter is right around the corner. With that in mind I have a fool proof method for boiling eggs so your yolks come out perfectly yellow. I hate cutting into a hard boiled egg only to find a green ring around my yolk. I’m a yolk kinda gal so it’s very important to me…hahaha.

I have heard and seen all sorts of methods from throwing a penny in the water, adding a ton of salt, add some vinegar, and the list goes on and on. Truthfully, none of those have ever worked for me. I have found that fresh eggs present the biggest problem. Dont you just hate when you peel an egg only to lose all the white? They look horrible and the only thing you can do with them is add them to salads, or, hide them and eat them when nobody is looking.

I place my not so fresh eggs in a pan big enough to accomodate them without them laying on top of one another. Then add cold water to cover. On high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil. When that happens, immediately remove them from the heat, and cover with a lid.  Set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, place them in a water and ice bath. The object here is to stop the cooking process. Your yolks will be perfectly yellow.

So, when Peter Cottontail rolls around, you will have eggs worthy of any Easter basket. Our family loves them Easter morning with toasted Easter Bread. Bet ya can’t guess what the next post is!!!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

SUNSHINE CAKE & MY DOMAIN….

Well, I now own the domain “aroundthebutcherblock.com”. Thanks to my daughter, who is very good at these things.  All I had to do was have Sunday dinner and tell her I needed help. Just like that, I own it. I am hoping, that together, we can better organize this site. In doing so, making it easier to locate specific recipes. Bear with me as I go through this transition.

My one son-in-law loves sweets and fortunately is able to eat them. He also loves pineapple. So I made a dessert I found called Sunshine Cake. It is a Weight Watcher friendly cake coming in at 9 SP per serving. I made a couple changes and it worked out perfectly. It is moist, light, and loaded with flavor. More importantly, it was quick and easy. The icing stands on it’s own as a dessert.

I can see different flavors and have some ideas on how to change it up. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope you try this one. I think it would be the perfect guilt free Easter dessert.

SUNSHINE CAKE

16 SERVINGS/9SP PER SERVING

  • 1 (18oz) box of yellow or white cake mix
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (20oz) can of crushed pineapple, divided in 1/2 (do not drain)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of liquid egg whites
  • 1 (12oz) container of Cool Whip lite
  • 1 (1.5oz) package of Sugar Free instant vanilla, lemon, or white chocolate pudding mix
  • Vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 cake pan with non-stick spray
  3. In a bowl, add the cake mix, egg whites, 1/2 the pineapple, and the applesauce and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Mix as directed on the package with a hand mixer.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake at 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and removed. Cool completely.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting: mix the Cool Whip Lite, instant pudding, other half of the crushed pineapple and juices, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and set aside in the refrigerator to set.
  6. Frost the top of the cake, making sure it has cooled completely.
  7. Cut into squares and serve, keep refrigerated.

Note: If you use lemon pudding use fresh squeezed lemon juice, instead of the vanilla, in the cake and icing. You can also add some lemon zest.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

 

 

CAJUN SHRIMP & CAULIFLOWER GRITS

I love Shrimp, and I love Shrimp and Grits. What I don’t love is all the butter and heavy cream required to make grits palatable and creamy. So I decided to do my own take on a dish that I love.

Joe brought home some Shrimp.  It’s one of those dishes whether  you are watching your weight or not, it’s just good. They are,  in fact, an excellent choice when you are watching the calories. Steamed and grilled are excellent choices since you aren’t adding extra fat. They have also been touted as being one of those foods that boost your metabolism, and have antixoidants, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Spicy foods are also a metabolism booster.  Winner, winner, shrimp dinner!

Something else I love is mashed, or pureed cauliflower. It’s a great vehicle for many flavors. It can be mashed, broiled, pureed, or baked. I use it all he time in place of potatoes to reduce calories and carbs. I have actually become very adept in making it taste like mashed potatoes. So much so, that when I served it to someone he said, “These are the best mashed potatoes I have ever had. What did you do to them?”  I had to laugh, but was, at the same time flattered he didn’t know what they were. By the way, he didn’t believe me when I told him it was cauliflower. Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes and I cook them all the time. When I want a huge portion however, cauliflower mash does it for me every time.

Try the cauliflower on it’s own and add flavors that you like. I find adding some turnip to the mix gives it that earthy flavor like potato but no added carbs. When I make cauliflower as a side dish, I also grate a bit of fresh nutmeg in it. It gives it a nice hint of warmth. Be careful, nutmeg can be overpowering if you use too much. Last, but not least, when making cauliflower mash; steam it. It absorbs a lot of water when boiled, and will make your mash runny.

This is another weight friendly recipe. I promise it is big on flavor and very filling. If any of you use the point system from Weight Watchers it is only 7 Smart Points and makes two huge portions or as the say in the south “boo coo, boo coo”.

CAJUN SHRIMP & CAULIFLOWER GRITS

For the Cauliflower

  • 1/4 C fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tsp granulated chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 Tbsp Brummel & Brown spread
  • 1 large head of Cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/2 small turnip or 1/2 cup, peeled and cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 wedges of Laughing Cow White Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and fresh ground Pepper to taste

For the Shrimp

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, without the tails
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 Tbsp Brummel & Brown spread
  • 1/4 C thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp white wine
  • 1/4 C fat free chicken broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 of 1 link of hot lean Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
  • cooking spray (I use Pam olive oil spray)
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Assemble and prepare all the ingredients first.
  2. For the cauliflower mash: place the cauliflower, turnip, smashed garlic, and 1/4 C chicken broth in a container covered with plastic wrap or a steamer and microwave at high for 4 minutes, stir and cook an additional 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer all to a blender or food processor with a slotted spoon, along with the granulated chicken boullion, Brummel & Brown and Laughing Cow cheese. Process until smooth or to desired consistency.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 2 bowls and place in a warm oven.
  5. For the Shrimp: Coat the shrimp liberally with Cajun seasoning, toss to coat evenly.
  6. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray and add 1/2 Tbsp Brummel and Brown until melted.
  7. Cook the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks for about 5 minutes, then add the shrimp and cook on each side for about 1 minute or until pink, about 1-2 minutes.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium; add the tomato paste, garlic, and scallions to the shrimp and sausage mixture, stirring all together and continue to cook until the garlic is fragrant and the scallions are softened, about 1 minute.
  9. Add the white wine and the chicken broth and bring to the boil and cook for about 2 minutes or until sauce is developed.
  10. Divide the servings in half and put over top of the hot bowls of cauliflower grits and garnish with parsley if using.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

LIQUID ASSETS (LA) IN OCEAN CITY

Well, as I said before, it’s home show season for my husband. This weekend was no exception. He was at the home show in Ocean City at the Convention Center this past weekend. With a prime spot at the entrance, he had a very productive, busy weekend. After the show it’s time to relax and we have the perfect spot, Liquid Assets, or LA.

It’s a pretty cool place. It’s a package store that sells liquor, beer, and wine. There is a sizeable bar in the center of the store, with tables and couches and various places to sit and eat. The walls, lined with bottles, coolers of beer, old wine barrels and crates, make up the decor to create an eclectic atmosphere. But, the food is the star of this place. You must go! Be prepared to wait, they do not take reservations and the place is always packed. The drinks flow freely, and the staff could not be more attentive.

The menu includes items such as house made Pate’, various varieties of oysters, seafood potpie, steaks, sandwiches, fresh salads, and homemade doughnuts. Their bread puddings change with the season and are fantastic. There are a vast array of cheeses to choose from and meats so that you can indulge in a Charcuterie’ board. It’s great to pick out your favorites and share over cocktails. But these are just a few items, their menu is on line.

We went with our friends Jennifer, and Kevin who also participate in the Spring home shows. We introduced them to LA after realizing they loved food as much as we do. We actually went there twice this trip. They became fast fans and like us, know they are going to get good food and great service.

Our meals were great! Both Jennifer and I love roasted brussel sprouts. They prepare Buffalo Brussel Sprouts with Blue Cheese dressing on the side as a starter. Honestly, I could have made that my meal. It’s more than an ample portion and huge on flavor. Of course my Vodka Martini with Blue Cheese olives didn’t hurt my feelings either. 

I am proud to say that I duplicated the recipe and it was just as satisfying. I roasted my brussel sprouts, halved, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper. I cooked them until they started browning and were al dente. Then they were finished under the broiler so they were extra crispy. Out of the oven, with a toss in my favorite buffalo sauce and a side of blue cheese for dipping. They turned out great. 

My Buffalo Brussel Sprouts will keep me happy until I can dine there again! When your in Ocean City, stop by there and try them out. I guarantee it will become a fast favorite for you too.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

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