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Roasted Carrots with Thyme

2 Feb

This is a simple side dish, but it’s low calorie and it turned out delicious when I made it last night, so I decided to share.  My one regret is that I don’t have a better picture.  By the way, this recipe was inspired by one I made using the home chef delivery service.

Ingredients:

  • 8 carrots, cleaned and peeled
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Cut carrots on the bias (diagonally) into slices 1/2 inch thick.
  3. In an oven safe skillet, warm your olive oil over medium high heat.
  4. Once oil is hot, add carrots.  Allow carrots to cook, turning them periodically for about 4-5 minutes, until the bottoms begin to char just a bit, or turn golden brown.
  5. Once carrots have a little char on them, add salt and pepper, and thyme.  Mix in seasonings.
  6. Transfer oven safe skillet to a hot oven, and bake 17 minutes at 450 degrees.
  7. When removing the hot skillet from the oven, be very careful.  Handle will be very, very hot.

5 servings= 65 calories per serving

carrots

Skinny Cheesecake

22 Jan

As I’ve mentioned in many of my recent posts, I’ve gotten an instant pot electric pressure cooker.  When you get an instant pot, and you start researching what you can use it for, there are 2 things that people are very vocal about.  Yogurt, and Cheesecake.  I love yogurt, but it’s cheap and I’m probably not going to go through the trouble of making my own. Cheesecake, however.  Well that’s another story. Challenge Accepted!  I will provide directions below for both oven baking and instant pot baking. I read a bunch of recipes, then made substitutions and switches and crossed my fingers, because you know, cheesecakes are finicky. The results are DELICIOUS.  When you join an instant pot discussion, it becomes clear rather quickly that there is one reigning queen of pressure cooker cheesecake, and her name is “this old gal” so, I took a few tricks from “This old Gal” on how to cook the cheesecake in the instant pot.

Note, I made this in a 7 inch spring form pan so these slices are smaller than an average cheesecake, but still enough to feel like you’re scratching your cheesecake itch.  This is a traditional cheesecake, but if you like the idea of Peanut Butter Cheesecake better, I’ve got that too.  Also, you try this yummy  blueberry orange cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, check out this recipe I posted a while back! 

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 7 whole graham crackers (that’s 7 of the sheets of 4 rectangles).
  • 2  TBSP light butter or margarine (i used 50 cal per TBSP)

Filling:

  • 16 oz Neufchatel Cheese (sometimes marketed as 1/3 fat cream cheese) Room temp
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup splenda
  • just a pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • orange zest from 1/2 an orange
  • 3-4 drops of lemon juice (i just used the stuff in the plastic bottle this time but you could use zest from half an actual lemon instead)
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 1 room temperature egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk

Instructions: 

  1. put all the graham crackers into a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 25 seconds.
  3. Pour melted butter into cracker crumbs and stir until they are all well combined.
  4. Spray your spring form pan generously with cooking spray.
  5. Pour the crust mixture into the pan and use your fingers to press it evenly across the bottom, and up the sides just about an inch or so.  You can use the bottom of a glass to get a more consistent thickness and texture.
  6. Place the pan with the crust inside, into the freezer for 20 minutes to set while you work on making the filling.
  7. Once you’ve got your crust in place, it’s time to start making your filling.  It’s important to make sure your cheese is softened pretty well.  It should be very soft and pliable inside the package.
  8. Place your cream cheese, sugar, splenda, salt, flour, vanilla extract, orange peel, lemon juice, and milk into a mixing bowl.  Use stand mixer or electric beaters to cream these ingredients together until they are smooth.
  9. Add eggs, one at a time, and then yolk.  Mix until just incorporated after each one.
  10. Once filling is mixed together, pour it out on top of the crust, and spread it evenly across the pan.

Cook it! 

For the oven:

  1. Place your spring form pan on large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and fold the sides of the foil around the sides of the pan.
  2. Set pan inside a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  3. Very carefully place the whole contraption into the oven and bake at 325 for 55 minutes.  When the cake is ready, the edges will look done, but about 1 inch in the middle of the cake will still be jiggly.  This is perfect. It’s going to continue cooking in the next step.
  4. Turn off oven and prop door open.  Allow the cake to sit in the oven, turned off, door slightly open for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before moving to the refrigerator.  Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving.

For the Instant Pot:

  1. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom of your Instant Pot, and then add the trivet.
  2. Place a paper towel over the top of the pan, and then loosely attach a piece of foil over the top to hold the paper towel in place.  Fold the edges of the foil loosely over the sides of the pan. The foil should not be tightly sealing up the pan, just loosely attached so the paper towel stays stretched across the top.  This paper towel will catch any condensation so it doesn’t settle on the top of your cake and ruin the texture.
  3. Create a foil sling by placing a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil (about 2 ft long) on your counter, and folding it longways about 4 times.  So at the end, the foil strip should be about 4 inches wide, and 2 ft long.  Place your spring form pan directly in the center of this aluminum strip and pull the sides of the foil up to the top of the pan.  You’re going to use these pieces of foil as a handle to lift the hot pan out of the pot once cooking is done.
  4. Use the “handles” on the foil sling to lower your cake onto the trivet inside the Instant pot.
  5. Set the IP to high pressure, manual setting for 32 minutes.
  6. Once time is up, allow the Instant pot to sit for 18 minutes (NPR). Do not release any pressure until this 18 minute time frame has passed.  Once your 18 minutes has passed, release any remaining pressure manually.
  7. Use handles from the foil sling to remove the pan carefully and place the pan on a cooling rack.
  8. Unwrap the top of the cake and discard foil and paper towel.  Allow cake to cool on the cooling rack 1 hour before placing into the refrigerator.
  9. Refrigerate 6 hours to overnight before serving.

Makes 8 servings= 247 calories per serving

Editors Note:  My husband likes his cheesecake plain. I like mine with cherry topping.  Since the slices are small, I used 2 tbsp of kroger light cherry pie filling (shown below) to top mine.  That brought my calories up to 273.  My threshold for desserts to be listed on this site as low calorie, is 300 calories or less.  That being said, my husband chose to eat a 1/6th sized serving instead of 1/8th which brought his calories up to 327 with no topping. If you really love cheesecake and you’ve got calories to spare… go for it.  Cut it into 6’s instead of 8’s.

 

 

Low Calorie Homemade Pizza

10 Jan

 

So, this recipe is officially for pizza, but some folks don’t wan to go through the trouble of making sauce or they already have store bought sauce on hand.  Also, everyone likes different things on their pizza.  So I’m going to give you 2 things here.  I’ll give you the recipe for just crust, along with calorie count, and then I’ll give you my recipe for a cheese pizza.  That way if you make your own pizza, all you have to add are the calories associated with whatever toppings you choose to use.  This turned out much better than I expected.  In fact, the family loved it and it’ll definitely be making a return visit to my dinner table.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 single serve containers of plain greek low fat yogurt
  • 3 cups of self rising flower
  • 2 tablespoons of water

That’s it.  Yeah, I know. This sounds crazy, but it’s good I promise. Mix it together, knead with your hands for about 5 minutes, and voila!  Spray a large baking pan with sides down with nonstick spray.  Roll your dough out evenly to the edges of the pan, pressing any extra little dough up against the sides.  Use a fork to poke some holes throughout the crust and top your pizza with everything you want on it before baking. (13 min at 475).  Continue on if you wish to use my sauce recipe.

Pizza Sauce:

  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 tablespoon of granulated garlic (garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano
  • 1/4 tsp of basil
  • just a dash of onion powder if you like it.

Instructions:

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and spread evenly over crust.

To make Cheese pizza:  add 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake at 475 for 13 minutes.

Makes 5 average servings  or 4 pretty large servings. Cut into 15 slices (5 smaller servings, 3 slices each) or 8 large slices (4 servings, 2 slices each)

 

4 servings: Crust only= 345 calories             4 servings: Cheese Pizza = 580 Calories

5 servings: Crust only = 275 calories           5 servings: Cheese Pizza= 464 Calories

 

I used turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, and fresh mushrooms on my pizza pictured here. Well.. parts of it. The lower bottom right quarter is just cheese for my picky kid:

pizza-2             pizza-1

 

 

 

Avacado Salad

3 Apr

My need to try this salad started with one of those 30 second video recipes on facebook.  I don’t know which site it was that posted it, but it sent me on a google search for something similar.  So, I won’t take credit for this recipe.  It’s one I borrowed from a blog called Natasha’s Kitchen.  The only alterations I made were using less lemon, and less oil.  This was yummy.  I’ll make it again in the summer.  Sort of like turning Guacamole into salad…how can you go wrong? 🙂

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Haas Avacados, ripe
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 of a red tomato diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 a large lemon
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions: 

  1. Chop your avacado, and tomatoes to about the same size.
  2. Slice your cucumber down the center long ways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Dice the cucumber a little smaller than the tomatoes and avacado.
  3. Mix all your veggies together, stir in the Oil and Lemon Juice, as well as cilantro.
  4. Salt, Pepper, Stir, and enjoy 🙂

Makes 6 Servings= 131 calories per serving 

img_2890  

 

Steakhouse sautéed mushrooms

16 Feb

These are a simple and delicious accompaniment  to a nice steak, or a beautifully grilled porkchop. And they’re super low cal to boot!
Ingredients:

  • 1  tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small carton sliced mushrooms (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tbsp worschestire sauce

Directions:

Use a medium sized skillet with a lid. Melt the butter, and add mushrooms once butter is melted.

Sautéed mushrooms a bit in butter, adding salt and pepper.

After a minute or two, add worschestire sauce and stir into mushrooms.

Cover and allow to cook about 2-3 minutes at a time. After 2-3 minutes, stir mushrooms and replace lid until they reach desired texture.

Serve immediately while hot.

3 servings= 44 calories per serving 

2 servings = 66 calories per serving


Tomato Basil Soup

2 Feb

I have long had an aversion to canned tomato soup.  I’ve hated it since I was a kid, and for a long time I thought i didn’t like Tomato Soup at all.  Then, in college, I discovered tomato basil soup at a local restaurant, and from that point on, I was in love.  I’ve wanted to try this at home for years, but never got around to it.  I try not to eat it too often out anymore, because the calorie count can vary dramatically depending on the use of butter and heavy cream.  So, it seemed like I just needed to skinny up some tomato soup and make it at home.  Last weekend, I finally got around to it and the results are delicious.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 32 oz (one big box) of Vegetable Stock
  • 3 TBSP of minced garlic, or 3 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
  • 1 (28 oz) Can of Crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup- 1 cup of half and half
  • About 10 leaves of fresh basil, cut into little pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place red onions in a 4 qt pot with about 1 cup of vegetable stock.  Bring to a Simmer and simmer onions for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic to the onions and continue to simmer about 3 additional minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper into the mixture, and bring to a boil.  Once it begins to boil, reduce heat back to a simmer.
  4. Continue to simmer soup for about 15 additional minutes, stirring periodically.
  5. If you have a great immersion blender, you’ll use it at this point to puree the soup into a smooth blend.  If you do not have a great immersion blender, you can use your regular blender, but listen up here..this is important.  Do not pour the entire pot of soup into the blender at once.  If you do, the boiling soup is going to explode out of the top of the blender and all over you when you hit the button, trust me on this one.  Divide the soup into 2-3 batches, and after blending each one, return them all back to the pot. Your blender shouldn’t be more than 1/2 full with each batch.
  6. Once all your stuff is blended well and back in the pot, stir in your half and half, and your basil and salt and pepper to taste.   Continue to simmer the soup about 10-15 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you enjoy.

My batch used 3/4 cup of half and half, and i think it turned out nicely.  If you use 1 cup, add about 10 calories per serving.

 

6 (1 Cup) Servings= 105 Calories per cup

Approximately 2 weight watchers points plus per cup

Zucchini with Tomato Gravy

24 Jan

This was a yummy side dish that I quite enjoyed.  The sauce is lovely and quite different.  It can be used over baked or broiled chicken or pork chops as well.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 large green zucchini squash, washed and sliced
  • 1 cup of tomato juice or V8
  • 1/3 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 TBSP light Butter (I use one that’s 50 cal/tbsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions: 

  1. Mix half of the tomato juice and all the corn starch in a small bowl and whisk until mixture is smooth.
  2. In a small skillet, mix tomato juice/cornstarch mixture, remaining 1/2 cup of tomato juice, chicken broth, salt, pepper and garlic powder to the pan.
  3. Bring the tomato gravy mixture to a boil.  Reduce Heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until thick.
  4. Remove tomato gravy from heat and stir in 1 TBSP of light butter.
  5. In a separate skillet, melt remaining 1 TBSP of butter.
  6. Add sliced zucchini to the melted butter, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until zucchini is soft.  Add a little salt and pepper to the zucchini as it’s cooking.
  7. Once Zucchini is cooked, divide into 4 equal servings of zucchini, topped with tomato gravy.


Makes 4 servings= 76 Calories per serving

Appx 1 weight watchers points plus per serving