Apple Carrot Nut Muffins {3 WW+ Breakfast}

I was hosting a playgroup playdate at my house yesterday morning and didn't really have much planned in the form of snacks. I had the usual toddler fair of dried cranberries, cheerios and pretzels but nothing of substance for the mamas. So I asked Ethan what he wanted. And like your typical kid he asked for cupcakes. So I made the next best thing.

I grabbed one of my recipe books and started flipping. And fell upon a recipe that I had all of the ingredients for (sans a few substitutions). And the results were pretty darn yummy. I'll definitely be making these muffins for future get togethers.

Inspiration: Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking

Apple Carrot Nut Muffins
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup SPLENDA® brown sugar blend (or 2/3 cup regular brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 small apples, 1 shredded and 1 diced small
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 2 muffin tins or prep with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl whisk flours, sugar, baking powder, soda & salt together until well mixed.  In a seperate large bowl whisk eggs. Add yogurt and butter. Stir until combined.

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated together, about 15 strokes. Do not overmix. Fold in apples, carrots & pecan halves.

Fill muffin tins 2/3rds of the way full. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Top each muffin with sugar blend. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

24 servings | 3 WW+ Points*

*by omitting the nuts you can reduce this recipe to 2 WW+ points each

A great quick breakfast alternative for those on the go

Roasted Tomato & Asparagus Pasta with Chicken and Feta {10 WW+ Dinner}

After yet another busy weekend (surprise, surprise) I hadn't yet meal planned for the week (Still haven't! Someone please kick my butt!) and had to scour the cupboards and fridge yet again. Luckily I roasted an extra piece of chicken this weekend so I had one chicken breast to work with. It's kinda hard to make a meal out of one chicken breast so I decided on a pasta dish. That way I could dice up the chicken into small bites and make it go farther with the pasta. Well, it worked!

Along with some roasted vegetables I had left from another dish I made last week and some yummy flavored feta cheese I picked up on sale I threw together one of my more tasty last minute meals. This pasta dish is definitely perfect for the spring season. Simple, tasty and makes the ingredients stretch. Definitely budget friendly.

Roasted Tomato & Asparagus Pasta with Chicken and Feta
  • 2 cups tomatoes, whole (small round varieties like grape and cherry are best)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch sections
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or if you prefer roasted whole with vegetables)
  • 8oz pasta, gemelli or fusilli 
  • 1 roasted chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat feta, tomato and basil flavor
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place foil on a rimmed cookie sheet and put vegetables on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. (Alternative method - roast asparagus for 8 minutes on sheet and tomatoes for 20 minutes in glass dish. I'm lazy and did it all on one sheet).

While vegetables are roasting, boil and cook pasta.

Place roasted vegetables in a large bowl and add garlic, tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Add pasta, chicken and cheese and toss. Top with fresh parsley and serve.

4 servings | 10 WW+ Points

Chicken Parmesan Bites {7 WW+ Dinner}

I have been trying to come up with healthy, fun dinners that my toddler would be more interested in. Lately all he's wanted is chicken nuggets so I've been thinking up ways to turn typical chicken dishes into more kid-friendly meals. And I've been craving chicken parmesan for a while so why not make it into parmesan bites? Put a side of noodles and sauce on the plate and I had one meal my son was more than likely to enjoy. Right? Right! 

I put a plate of three chicken parmesan bites, 1/4 cup of noodles w/ sauce and a few broccoli florettes in front of him tonight and he went to town! And the best part? I used only one chicken breast to feed my whole family. Isn't that awesome? And budget friendly!

I also only made 5 ounces of spaghetti for the three of us and used 1/4 of a jar of sauce. We were all very full and even had room on our plate for more broccoli. Who doesn't want more broccoli? And I'm sure I could decrease the points a bit if I baked the chicken but I really liked the texture of the outside of the chicken that came with the oil. Totally worth it.

Chicken Parmesan Bites 
  • 1 chicken, breast, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 tablespoons 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup Progresso® Italian-Style Bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Place chicken breast pieces in a bowl and cover with milk. Let soak for a few minutes while prepping the other ingredients. Place 1/4 cup of flour into a large ziploc bag. Measure out 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and place into a container with salt and pepper. Grate parmesan cheese into the same container, stir to combine and set aside. Place egg white in a small bowl.

Take chicken and place in bag with flour. Shake vigorously until the chicken is well coated. Put coated chicken in bowl with egg white and stir to coat chicken. Place bread crumb mixture in bag you just used for flour. Put chicken back in the bag and shake again coating the chicken with bread crumbs.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add coated chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. When chicken is cooked thoroughly remove from pan and serve with spaghetti and marinara sauce. Add some steamed veggies or a nice salad to make this a complete meal.

3 servings* (5 bites) | 7 WW+ Points

* Does not include spaghetti & marinara sauce

Teriyaki Chicken with Green Beans {8 WW+ Dinner}

I was planning on making something else for dinner last night but really didn't have the time or energy for a more involved meal. So I went with simple and raided the fridge for the last of the food available to us. Yeah... I haven't been to the grocery store in over a week. Bad mommy/wife! Good thing we have a very large pantry filled at all times with spices and sauces.

This meal turned out even better than I expected. I really didn't know where I was going when I started grabbing things from the fridge and pantry but I think I might just add this one to our monthly rotation. It's not only super tasty but fast and easy as well.

Teriyaki Chicken with Green Beans
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 pounds haricot verts 
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Cut chicken breast into 1 inch pieces. Heat oil on medium high in large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Saute shallot and garlic clove. Add chicken and cook until white on the outside.

Add green beans and cook another 3 to 5 minutes or until green beans are cooked to al dente and chicken is browned lightly. Add teriyaki sauce and stir to cover chicken and beans. Top with sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 3 | 8 WW+ Points

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin Bites {1 WW+ Dessert}

Joseph was out with a friend for dinner last night so my little man and I decided to bake up some goodies for dessert. I started out making regular muffins but then decided to make them mini instead! I'm glad I did. These things were the perfect size for my toddler and the perfect size for me.

Plus they're only 1 point each so I can control how much indulgence I want and not have to use up too many points. The mini chocolate chips really make these tastier. You get chocolate in every single bite and feel like you're really getting away with something.

Super easy and yummy results! It's a win-win with this recipe :) And if you're making the standard muffin size you should get 24 muffins at 3 WW+ points each (versus my 72 mini muffins). But remember to calculate the points value if you change anything. The original recipe did not include an egg but the egg doesn't add anything to the points value and, I think, definitely adds something to the recipe.

Inspired By: Our Best Bites

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin Bites
  • 1 package spice cake mix
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini muffin pan with Pam cooking spray. Mix cake mix, pumpkin puree and egg together until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Place 1 tablespoon of batter into prepared mini muffin pan. Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

72 Servings | 1 WW+ Point each

WFD? Week of 5/15/2011 {Weekly Meal Planning}

I have got to get better at sticking with meal planning! This past week was a bit all over the place and as a result I didn't do much blogging :( Well that stops now! Not only do I need to focus on sticking with my meal planning for my weight loss, I also need to stick with it for our budget. Money is getting tight around here and I need to do everything I can to keep everything reigned in with regards to spending.

If anyone has any helpful tips and tricks to stick with a grocery budget (or any budget  for that matter) I'd gladly take your advice! I'm already couponing (and love it) but I think I need to step it up a bit.

Week of 5/15/2011

Sunday - 8 WW+ Points
Chicken Teriyaki with Green Beans

Monday - 7 WW+ Points
Chicken Parmesan Bites with spaghetti & marinara

Tuesday -13 WW+ Points
Dinner out - Pat & Oscars BBQ Chicken, Greek Salad w/ fat free dressing & 1 breadstick

Wednesday - ??
Lettuce Wraps

Thursday - ??
Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops lightened up

Friday -
Dinner out

Saturday - 9 WW+ Points
Pesto Salmon Salad

WFD? Week of 5/8/2011 {Weekly Meal Planning}

This past week was crazy! It not only went by fast but suppers were thrown together with little time to take pictures and even less time to blog. So I apologize for the lack of posts recently. I was hoping to have some recipes up from the baby shower I hosted last weekend but I forgot my camera and haven't received the pictures yet (and don't want to bug my girlfriend for them :)). You guys can wait a bit, right?

So this week I'm going to try a few new recipes. Some from other blogs and others I'll just make up as I go along. Luckily I have a few dishes already prepared and ready to throw in the oven from previous nights (the mac & cheese and the chili). With both Joseph and I working on Thursdays and Fridays it's made dinner something very hard to accomplish in a small amount of time. Preparation is key to staying on track and resisting the urge to pick up take out. But sometimes take out wins...

Week of 5/8/2011

Sunday -
Pick Up Stix - no cooking on Mother's Day!

Monday - 10 WW+ Points
Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese 

Tuesday -
Chicken Tacos 

Wednesday -
Buttermilk Brined BBQ Pork Chops via What's Cookin' Chicago?

Thursday -
Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork

Friday - 5 WW+ Points
Slow Cooker Three Bean Chili

Saturday -
Barbecue Chicken with Mustard Glaze via Cooking Light

Italian Pasta Salad {4WW+ Appetizer}

I hosted a baby shower this past weekend (more recipes and pictures to come) and one of the dishes I made was this pasta salad. It was super easy to make and came together quickly. I love that I didn't have to use a packet or mix to put it together. Another bonus was that I had all of the ingredients on hand and didn't have to run to the store to buy anything. I'll definitely be making this again for those summer barbecues and picnics.  I just need to figure out what other spices to throw in to make it pop some more. Any ideas?

Inspiration: Brown Eyed Baker

Italian Pasta Salad
  • 1 package Trader Joe's fusilli pasta, cooked and drained
  • 3 ounces Hormel Pepperoni Minis
  • 6 Kraft provolone slices, diced
  • 5 ounces Frigo part skim mozzarella 
  • 1 6 ounce can large black olives
  • 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
For the Dressing:
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, pepperoni, cheese, olives, beans, tomatoes, parsley and basil.

To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and salt. While whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Once combined, pour over pasta mixture to coat and toss. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Serves 20 | 4 WW+ Points (1/2 cup)

WFD? Week of 5/1/2011 {Weekly Meal Planning}

This week I've decided to take a step back and revisit a few of the meals I've made in the past. Some I made while on the old weight watcher plan and others I made off plan. So I'm going to re-work them and give them a new spin. Stay tuned for more updates!

Week of 5/1/2011

Sunday - 10 WW+ Points
Italian Turkey Sliders & Pasta Salad

Monday - 10 WW+ Points
Ratatoille & Corn Cakes

Tuesday - 12 WW+ Points (2 slices)
Homemade Pepperoni & Spinach Pizza

Wednesday - 6 WW+ Points (plus spaghetti)
Baked Chicken Parm & Spaghetti via Taste & See

Thursday - ?
BBQ Chicken with Mashed Cauliflower

Friday - ?
Eating Out

Saturday - ?
Pork Chops & Asparagus

Sunday -?
Enchiladas revisited WW style


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