Join me on my family blog! {Final Blog Post}

The time has come. I am no longer on Weight Watchers and don't have the time to keep up my cooking and food blog in a way I wish I could. While this makes me quite sad I'm happy to say that I'll continue posting recipes on my family blog, the Simmworks Family Blog. So if you follow me here please make sure to bookmark the Simmworks Family Blog to read more recipes, DIY crafts, tips for green living and more!

** This blog will still remain available to search for recipes that I've previously posted, I just won't have any new content from here on out. **

Meatloaf Muffins {6 WW+ Dinner}

I love cute food. And these meatloaf muffins are pretty darn cute. I mean, they're small, they're colorful and they taste amazing. I've noticed that when I make our meals in smaller portions my kids seem to enjoy them a lot more and eat more than they normally would. So anything that I can convert from a normal, larger size to muffin tin size is awesome.

A few years back I made some meatloaf muffins and blogged about them but they weren't anything special. And since I love meatloaf I wanted to play with one of my favorite recipes a bit and tweak it to make me happy. Well this recipe has done it! Not only do my kids love these meatloaf muffins, I love them too! And the smaller size isn't just great for the kids, it means portion control for me

Meatloaf Muffins
  • 1 20 ounce package 93/7 lean ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup Trader Joe's fire roasted onions & peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup light shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and take out muffin pan. Saute onions, peppers, & garlic until tender. Add Italian seasoning & stir. Set aside to cool.

Place ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, egg, panko & cheese in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add in the cooled veggies and mix in. Form 12 small balls of mixture and place each ball in muffin well (balls will be roughly 1-1 1/2" in diameter).

Bake meatloaf muffins for 18-20 minutes. While muffins are cooking mix together ketchup, mustard & sugar. Once the 18-20 minutes are up take the muffins out of the oven and top with ketchup mixture. Put the muffins back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Let rest 3-5 minutes before serving with your favorite sides and veggies.

Serves 6 | 3 WW+ Points per muffin

Nutritional Info: 115 calories, 7g carbs, 5g fat, 12g protein, 1g fiber, 171g sodium

Buffalo Chicken Dip {Tasty Appetizer}

When I think of dishes that can make or break a party the one dish that comes to mind is this amazing Crack Dip (or so it's called). You either love it or you hate it. And lucky for me, my friends love it! I first made it to bring to a girls night in at my friend Janelle's house. Within minutes of the dip coming out of the oven it was 1/2 way gone. And by the end of the night the pyrex baking dish was licked clean. No, seriously... every drop of dip was gone.

So I decided to make this dip for our Christmas dinner as an appetizer before the meal. It was a great hit with my husband's family so I've continued making it for other get togethers as well. This is definitely a great dish to bring when you need something hot and tasty. The next dip I'm eyeing is my friend Melissa's jalepeno popper dip. Yum!

Inspiration: Frank's Redhot

Buffalo Chicken Dip aka Crack Dip
  • 8 ounce package low fat neufchatel cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup low fat ranch salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup FRANK'S® REDHOT® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 1 cup lite shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup reserved for topping
  • 2 cups roasted chicken breast, shredded

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.

Mix in salad dressing, Frank's RedHot Sauce and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Stir in chicken.

Bake 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir. Top with cheddar cheese and broil on high for 1-2 minutes or until top is golden brown. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers or vegetables (we love celery with this dip!).

Serves 6-8, doubling is recommended ;)

Corn Dog Muffin Bites {Guiltless 1 WW+ Appetizer}

When I chose what to make for the big game last weekend I knew one thing had to be on the list... these Pinterest inspired corn dog bites that I found over at Iowa Girl Eats. I don't know who pinned them first but it was love at first site! And it was a treat I was sure the kids would enjoy. Sure my son would peel off all of the corn bread and give it to his sister but both of them would enjoy these awesome, simple treats.

And I was right! These babies were a hit. And most of them were gone by the end of the first quarter. Luckily I made these in two batches so while one was being devoured the other was baking. Not that eating these cold would be bad. I wouldn't know anything about that though... That lone little doggy laying on the plate calling out my name after the game... YUM!

Inspired by Iowa Girl Eats

Corn Dog Muffin Bites
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 97% Fat Free Hebrew National hot dogs, cut into 1″ bites (6 pieces per dog)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter, applesauce and sugar in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add buttermilk and whisk to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour, and salt, and stir to combine. Whisk into wet ingredients in two batches.

Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray, and spoon 1 Tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup. Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool in mini muffin tin for 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, and re-heat for 20-30 seconds before serving.

Makes 48 | 1 WW+ each

NI per muffin:
46 cals | 7g carbs | 1g fat | 2g protein | 0g fiber | 118g sodium

Green Monster Smoothie {5 WW+ Breakfast}

After the killer smores brownies we indulged in last night I needed a breakfast that was easy to make and full of veggie goodness. My friend CB over at See Cupcake Run had just posted about an awesome smoothie she made with two handfuls of spinach so I knew I could get my leafy greens in. Then when I saw the recipe and it called for peanut butter and bananas I knew I had to try it.

For 5 points, this smoothie is so much more than a cup of spinach. Honestly, I couldn't even taste the spinach. All I tasted was banana and peanut butter. And next time I might shake it up by trying sunflower butter instead of peanut butter. Or maybe lowfat chocolate milk. Although that might have to be saved for dessert due to all of the sugar in chocolate milk. We'll see!

Inspired by See Cupcake Run

Green Monster Smoothie
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 ripe, frozen banana, peeled
  • 2 handfuls organic spinach
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 tablespoon better n' peanut butter
  • 1-3 ice cubes
Add 1 cup of milk to the blender.

Now add in the chia or flax (if using) and nut butter.

Next, add in the spinach followed by the banana on top.

Blend until smooth.

Add in your ice cubes and blend some more.

Serves 1 | 5 WW+ Points

S'mores Brownies {6 WW+ Dessert}

We were in need of a little sweetness in our home and when my son saw some marshmallows in the cupboard he asked if we could make something with them. Ok, first he asked if he could just eat them but when I turned him down he got creative. When I asked what he wanted to make with them he said chocolate. So I took that to the next level and asked if he wanted to make marshmallow brownies. Of course he was all up for that!

When I went into the cupboard for the chocolate bar my dear friend, Miranda, gave to us from her home in Switzerland when she visited earlier in the week I saw the graham crackers and knew we had to attempt to make smores brownies. The base we used is the classic Dorie Greenspan brownies sans the espresso powder and walnuts and than we just added our toppings. I might try and do this with different ones next time... peanut butter, caramel, the combinations are endless!

And the end product... well, it was totally worth it.

Inspired by a Pinterest search

Smores Brownies
  • 5 tablespoons of butter, cut into 1" pieces
  • 4 ounces of dark chocolate
  • 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers (about 4 sheets)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Chop up chocolate. Layer 9" pan with foil (see my tip here) and coat foil with butter.

Place butter in a heat proof bowl and top with chocolate. Place over simmering water and heat until fully melted. Remove from heat.

Mix in sugar (don't worry if it turns grainy, that's normal).

Add eggs, one at a time. Whisk each egg in thouroughly before adding the other. Add vanilla and whisk to combine. Whisk a bit more to make sure everything is well incorporated. Add salt and flour into the mix and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and top with marshmallows. Then top with graham cracker pieces.

Bake for 30-33 minutes. Top should be lightly browned and puffy.

Let cool completely before removing from pan. Marshmallow topping should settle down a lot while cooling. Then, lift foil and place on cooling rack. Carefully remove foil from edges. Cut into squares (warning: this will be very sticky!) and serve.

Serves 12 | 6 WW+ Points

Buffalo Chicken Chili {5 WW+ Dinner}

When I saw this recipe it reminded me so much of the buffalo chicken dip I made for a friend's girls night in and I had to try it. Now as soon as I put it on my menu for the week I knew that my husband wouldn't like it. But there are quite a few recipes that I pass on because my husband won't like it. So while doing this challenge I figured why not try a recipe I wanted to eat. Something just for me. And this definitely was that recipe.

I was right. The hubs decided to order a pizza instead of trying a bite of this chili but I enjoyed a huge bowl. It was spicy, flavorful and creamy. I added greek yogurt and frozen corn kernels instead of the original recipe's creamed corn, and I also included some mozzerella cheese to the mix at the end for some added creaminess. I think I might try this again and add more chicken and some cream cheese to the mix . But I'll wait till I have my girlfriends over so my husband won't have to order another pizza.

Inspiration: Taste & See

Buffalo Chicken Chili
  • 2 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1/2 bottle Franks red hot sauce
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 can beans of your choice (I used pinto)
  • 1 can diced green chilies 
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded light mozzarella cheese

Add all ingredients except yogurt and cheese to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Take chicken out and shred, add back in and include greek yogurt and cheese to the chili. Stir well and let cook another 15-30 minutes.

Serve with celery, a nice baguette, tortilla chips or anything else you might have on hand. I enjoyed using my celery as a spoon to eat my bowl. Kept me away from the extra carbs...

Serves 6 | 5 WW+ Points

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings {9 WW+ Dinner}

What's been great about this challenge so far is the fact that we've had dinner on the table by 6pm every night this week! It's totally awesome. And I know exactly what we're going to have without scavenging through the pantry and fridge to come up with a last minute meal. This has been helpful both in the weight loss department and in the stress department. When all of your family members are hungry at the same time each day and you don't have something to give to them to satiate that hunger you have a lot of whine to deal with.

What's not so great? The lighting in our house now that Daylight Savings Time has entered the picture. I used to be able to get semi-decent shots of my meals without the use of a light box or other contraption. Now it looks like I may have to invest in something in order to bring you delicious looking foods to crave... unless this does it for you. What do you think? Would you make this meal based on the pictures and title alone?

Oh, and a small word about the actual dish we ate... I don't recall ever eating chicken and dumplings before. Chicken pot pie, sure... but not chicken and dumplings (Mom, I'm sure you can confirm or deny this for me) and I have to tell you this was mighty tasty! Creamy, bready goodness. All of the great things about pot pie and biscuits and yummy warmth radiating from this dish. Mmmm!

Inspiration: Rachel Ray Magazine via Campbells

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup whole baby carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 can Campbell's® 98% Fat Free Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cups Trader Joe's all-purpose baking mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
Place the chicken, potatoes, carrots and celery into a 6-quart slow cooker.
Stir the soup, water, thyme and black pepper in a small bowl. Pour the soup mixture over the chicken and vegetables.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours* or until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir the baking mix and milk in a medium bowl. Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto the chicken mixture. Increase the heat to HIGH. Tilt the lid to vent and cook for 30-45 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked in the center.

*Or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Serves 4 | 9 WW+ Points

The difference between daylight pictures and nighttime pictures in my house... The picture above is when I started my slow cooker (about mid-day) and the picture below is when we ate dinner at 6pm. Dark outside and no good light in the home :(

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches {8 WW+ Dinner}

When  I joined the slow cooker challenge I knew I wanted to try out a new pulled pork recipe. Pulled pork is one of those slow cooker dishes that our family just loves. And left overs are met with happy smiles! The reason why I love this recipe so much is the lack of barbecue sauce needed. You essentially make your own with all of the ingredients and are actually left with a little liquid in the cooker when everything is done cooking. This makes for a moist and very tender meat that is absolutely delicious! I usually brown my meat before cooking it to give it more texture but didn't have time and it still turned out great.

Inspiration: Two Peas and Their Pod

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork loin
  • 8 whole wheat buns
Combine all of the ingredients except the pork and the buns in a large slow cooker. Stir together with a spoon until well combined. Add the pork and place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook for 8 hours on low or until pork is tender and easily pulls apart.

Take two forks and shred the pork. Place the pork back into the slow cooker with the remaining sauce. Stir well and serve on rolls or buns.

Serves 8 | 8 WW+ Points (includes bun)

Slow Cooker Red Wine Braised Short Ribs {6 WW+ Dinner}

On the last visit to Costco  we left with some boneless short ribs in our cart. I have no idea how they got there but knew I had to find a recipe to cook them up. My husband went in search of the perfect recipe and found a great one in our America's Test Kitchen cookbook. He kept mentioning it and finally I was ready to try it out. Too bad I didn't fully read the recipe before commiting to making it. I would have found out that we needed bone-in ribs, not boneless. And I forgot to cut the ribs smaller. And had no celery or carrots on hand. Oy!

In the end, with all odds against me, I was happy with what the end results was. The meat was tender, had amazing flavor, and was the perfect portion. I served the ribs over brown rice and included the veggies with the sauce instead of discarding them because they tasted delicious. But if you try the original recipe with carrots and celery you might want to discard and serve with your favorite steamed or roasted veggie (or a great salad!).

Inspiration: America's Test Kitchen via The Little Kitchen

Slow Cooker Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
  • 2 pounds boneless short ribs, cut into 3" pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onions, chopped medium
  • 1 zucchini, chopped medium
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves

Dry short ribs with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12‑inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown short ribs well on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Add onions, zucchini, garlic, , tomato paste, and thyme to fat in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onions are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine and vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. Bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir broth and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Transfer short ribs to serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Strain braising liquid, discarding solids, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley. Spoon 1 cup sauce over short ribs and serve with remaining sauce.

Serves 8 | 6 WW+ Points


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