Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Forget the February Sweets - Give me gravy!

With it being February and hearts and chocolate and all, everyone in the food blog world seems to be posting scrumptious looking desserts.  

Me - surrounded by a sea of cold white stuff - I'm all about comfort food.  Give me some nice hearty carbs and layer them with gravy - now that is what sings to my heart this Chilly Valentine Month.

My hero of the month:  
Chicken Burgers
Mushroom Onion Sauce (We're going to call it Gravy - so much more comfort food-esque, right?)
I made this perfect meal for a dreary, cold weeknight in under 30 minutes.  The recipe was a bit skimpy on gravy so next time I would probably double the gravy part - including the mushrooms.  I made a quick spinach sauté and sliced some oranges and dinner was on the table!

All this gravy-filled lusciousness came in at a skinny 7 Weight Watchers points for the whole meal.  Which is a good thing in February cuz I have to save up my points for all the yummy chocolate Valentine desserts that are all over those blogs!  <3

May the rest of your February be filled with hearts, flowers, chocolate...and...plenty of comfort food!

And a little sunshine and warmth - just a little...please...

Chicken Burgers with Mushroom Onion Sauce
Clean Eating Magazine Winter's Best 2013
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken or turkey
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion, divided
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Olive Oil cooking spray
  • 5 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk, divided (I used skim because that's what we have.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder (I used cornstarch but you could use flour too)
  • 4 slices hearty whole wheat or multi-grain bread toasted
  • Fresh sprigs thyme, optional (Mine is currently buried under 14 inches of snow so I opted out.)
1.  Combine chicken, 1/2 cup onion, 3 tsp basil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Form into 4, 1/2 inch thick patties.  Mist a medium skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium.  Add patties and cook, turning once until no longer pink in center and an instant thermometer reads 165 degrees in the center - about 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare sauce.  Mist medium saucepan with cooking spray and heat on medium.  Add mushrooms and remaining 1/4 cup onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add broth and thyme and increase heat to high.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add broth and thyme and increase heat to high.  Sauté stirring frequently, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk 2 Tbsp milk and arrowroot (or cornstarch/flour) until combined.  Stir into sauce along with remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk.  Reduce heat to medium and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until thickened.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  Stir in remaining 1 tsp basil.  

To serve, top bread with patties and sauce.  Garnish with fresh thyme (if using)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chocolate Covered Strawberries for your Sports Fan

Need a dessert to go with the mini-meatball subs?  
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Footballs
These disappeared in minutes!  They are seriously decadent but still only 2 Weight Watchers points for 2 strawberries!

Without further ado...The recipe.

Black and White Stawberries
Weight Watchers - New Complete Cookbook

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp raspberry liqueur (framboise)
  • 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 8 Large strawberries, with stems
  • 1/2 ounce white chocolate, chopped, or 2 Tbsp white chocolate chips
1.  Line a large baking sheet with wax paper.  In a small microwavable bowl, combine the chocolate chips, liqueur, and water; microwave on High, stirring twice, until melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Holding a berry by the hull, dip the berry halfway into the chocolate; set on the wax paper.  Repeat with the remaining berries and chocolate. 

2.  In another small microwavable bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave on High, stirring one, until melted and smooth, about 1 minute.  Scoop into  a small plastic bag and snip a small hole in one corner.  Pipe "laces" on the strawberries.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mini Bites for Sports Fans of All Kinds

...Or hungry book club friends!

Book club was in 2 hours and I was not in the mood to go to the grocery store - The weather here has been less than lovely - Cold, rainy, sleety, snowy.  

And by not lovely - I mean this...
Not the weather for a gratuitous grocery store run.  Time for some serious pantry/freezer magic.

A quick look in the freezer gave me an idea:  Mini Meatball subs!
I had all I needed:

  • Frozen small meatballs
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce
  • fresh basil
  • Sliced cheese - I used monterey jack
  • mini-pitas

Step One:  Split the mini-pitas and stuff with a small triangle of the cheese of your choice. 

Step Two:  Heat the meatballs in a saucepan in a small amount of sauce - just enough to cover them about half way up.  You don't want them to be too saucy or the bread will get soggy.

Step Three:  Scoop one meatball and a little bit of sauce into each pita half with the cheese and arrange in an oven-proof casserole dish.

Step Four:  Cut basil leaves into small pieces (I cut them in halves or quarters) and stuff into the pita next to the meatball.

Step Five:  Sprinkle lightly with grated parmesan.

Step Six:   Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the mini-subs are heated through.

Easy, right?  And sooo yummy!

Not gourmet - but don't you know they sure disappear!  
And that is what we, who love to cook for others, really want in the end! 
Stay warm out there everyone!

Monday, February 3, 2014

When Life Sends You Snow Days...Make Sweaters

I finally eeked a sewing day out of all those snow days that we've had here.  What is the logical thing to make on a snow day?  A sweater of course!

After seeing this on Lucky Sew and Sew's Blog and loving the cardigans that she has made,  I bought the #110 Cool Cardigans Draped Front Cardigan from Pamela's Patterns.  I bought the pattern forever ago while visiting family in Pennsylvania and finally got around to making it.  
Pamela's Patterns
Since it was a snow day, I needed to use what I had. There is no driving in the snow around here!  Too many crazy drivers who think they know how to drive their little sports cars or huge SUVs in the snow. I bought some purple ribbed sweater knit about 20 years ago at an outdoor market when we lived in Spain.  It was cheeeaap!  So I bought a ton of it and it has been sitting in my stash ever since.  Perfect for a trial run of this pattern.

My 8th grade niece was my photographer of the day
The pattern directions were great - although it was pretty self-explanatory and was easily completed in an afternoon from cutting to finished. 

I made a size medium and used the full bust front (The directions say that the most common fitting directions are built into Pamela's patterns.  I think that mostly means that they run big).  

I was overall happy with the sweater.  I've already worn it a couple of times. 

For next time I would:

  • raise up the shoulder a bit.  I thought it was ok, but the seam is falling off my shoulder more than I would like.  
  • shorten it a couple inches
  • Raise up the under arm a bit to give it a more fitted look.  

For a quick-sew, wearable muslin, I declared it a success and I got to use my new coverstitch machine to finish all the edges. I even figured out how to turn a neat corner with the coverstitch.  

Now...Does anyone have any hints about how to neatly end with the coverstitch?  So far, I have just been holding the fabric in place once I get to the starting point so that I get a few stitches in place, but it doesn't make for the neatest finish.  All hints welcome!